Astros 'concerned' about Miley's recent issues

Houston doesn't clinch West; lefty has 22.09 ERA over last 4 starts

September 22nd, 2019

HOUSTON -- Another woeful start by Astros starting pitcher Wade Miley has cast more doubt on the veteran left-hander’s viability to get the ball in the postseason, creating a dilemma for manager AJ Hinch with only seven games remaining in the regular season.

Miley looked like a rock-solid member of Houston’s playoff rotation behind Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke a month ago, but he has struggled mightily down the stretch. In Saturday’s 8-4 loss to the Angels at Minute Maid Park, Miley recorded only three outs while giving up four runs on four hits and one walk.

“Just not sharp, not crisp, not making pitches,” a clearly frustrated Miley said. “Didn’t get the job done.”

Miley is at a loss for reasons why he can’t get outs, saying it’s not mental, and Hinch said the pitcher was already looking at video in a desperate search for answers after the game. Miley maintains he’s not tipping pitches and is healthy, but he said hitters are recognizing pitches out of his hand, whereas earlier in the season they weren’t.

“I know I’m not doing my part and not getting my job done,” Miley said. “I’m not going out there and giving us a chance. It sucks. It’s tough to swallow, but at the same time, I’ve been through this. You’ve got to keep working and try to get through it.”

The loss snapped the Astros’ six-game winning streak and dropped their lead over the Yankees for best record in the Major Leagues to a half-game. Houston could have clinched its third consecutive American League West title with a win, but the champagne remains on ice.

Houston will send 19-game winner Justin Verlander to the mound in Sunday’s regular-season home finale looking for another clincher. Verlander needs 11 strikeouts to reach 3,000 for his Hall of Fame career.

In four September starts, Miley (14-6) has allowed 18 runs on 23 hits in 7 1/3 innings (22.09 ERA). He failed to escape the first inning on Sept. 5 against the Mariners and again on Sept. 10 against the A’s before righting the ship Sunday at Kansas City when he held the Royals to two runs in six innings.

“I’m concerned because we haven’t been able to get through this,” Hinch said. “We’re going to figure it out. He’s going to be really effective for us. Given the time, it’s a difficult time to assess because he’s got one start left before we’ve got to make some decisions. We’d obviously like to get him in a better frame of mind.”

Miley’s last regular-season start will be Friday against the Angels in Anaheim. Rookie right-hander Jose Urquidy, who gave up one run and four hits and struck out four batters in three innings in relief of Miley on Saturday, has pushed his way into consideration for the postseason roster. Bryan Abreu, another rookie, struck out four over two innings, allowing one run.

“We saw some good things out of young guys in the middle,” Hinch said.

David Fletcher homered off an 0-2 cutter to start the game, and the Miley was pulled after six of the nine hitters he faced reached base. The Astros scored three runs in the second, sparked by a solo homer by Yordan Alvarez, to cut the lead to 4-3 before the Angels pulled away. Kole Calhoun’s two-run home run in the ninth inning put the game on ice.

“We couldn’t get into the game very easily after the 0-2 homer,” Hinch said. “Things kind of spiraled a little bit, and then he got out of the first inning, and in the second inning, I didn’t like the way it started so I got him out of the game. Another tough day for him.”