Wade Miley

Sunday's Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Wade Miley vs. Nathan Eovaldi

July 12, 2015 - 5:31 am

The job of saving the Red Sox' late first-half surge from being rendered obsolete will go to Wade Miley as he takes the mound Sunday against Nathan Eovaldi for the final game before the All-Star break. The break could be much needed for the Red Sox as staff ace Clay Buchholz headed to the DL Friday with elbow tightness. The injury could've been much worse than it is, however, losing Buchholz puts the rotation in a bind. Someone will need to step up in his stead. One of the prime candidates to do so is Miley, the 28-year-old left-hander who has played host to a multitude of ups and downs on the campaign. For the season, he is just 8-7 with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP. Yet he had a terrific month of June, going 3-2 with a 3.30 ERA and 27 strikeouts over 30 innings pitched. "I'm just trying to go out and give us a chance to win," Miley said after his June 27 start, adding: "Just going out there and competing when it is my turn to pitch and that is it." Of late, Miley has struggled, allowing seven earned runs over his last two starts and walking nine batters in 11 2/3 innings. He has come under a fair bit of bad luck, however, as opponents have clubbed a .389 BABIP against him, which has produced a .298/.411/.383 slash line. Oddly enough, opponents' BABIP against Miley has risen along with his ground ball rate. Usually more ground balls equate to less hard contact and therefore less baserunners. but Miley is bucking the trend. In two starts against the Yankees this year, Miley has been quality, putting up a 3.65 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. His first start of the year was in New York on April 10, when he shut down the Yanks' big boppers to the tune of two earned runs over 5 1/3 innings, as the Red Sox emerged the victors in the contest, 6-5. This time around, he has much more at stake as he squares off with Eovaldi. Eovaldi, a former Dodger and Marlin, has always been seen as something of a pitching mystery. The 25-year-old has the highest average fastball velocity in the majors at 96 mph, yet he has never punched out more than 6.6 batters per nine innings as a pro. Furthermore, he has given up the seventh-most hits in the AL this season with 116 in just 93 innings. For a guy with the stuff of a power pitcher, Eovaldi seemingly has the stats of a finesse starter, similar to the Red Sox own Joe Kelly. On the year, Eovaldi is 8-2 with a 4.45 ERA. According to advanced stats, he should be a tad better than his ERA shows. His FIP is 3.65 and his 1.53 WHIP may be a function of a .354 opponents' BABIP rather than a control issue. Eovaldi has settled down over his last four starts, racking up a 2.38 ERA and a 3-0 record during this time. He has also limited baserunners well of late, sporting a .229/.289/.253 slash line over his last 22 2/3 innings. "I feel like just because I've been using [offspeed pitches] more, I've been able to gain confidence," Eovaldi said. "Not having to rely on the fastball all the time helps, so being able to make those big pitches, it's huge." Eovaldi was the losing pitcher when he took on Miley and the Red Sox on April 10, as he allowed eight hits over 5 1/3 innings while whiffing just one batter. More recently, on May 2 he earned a victory over the Sox when he gave up two runs during 6 2/3 innings at Fenway Park. Yankees vs. Miley (LHP) Chase Headley (25 plate appearances): .182 AVG/.280 OBP/.227 SLG Brett Gardner (9): .444/.444/.667, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs Brian McCann (9): .375/.444/.375 Jacoby Ellsbury (6): .333/.333/.333, 2 strikeouts Alex Rodriguez (6): .167/.167/.167 Mark Teixeira (6): .000/.167/.000 Gregorio Petit (5): .250/.400/.250, 2 strikeouts Chris Young (5): .200/.200/.400, 1 double Didi Gregorius (3): .500/.500/.500 Garrett Jones (3): .000/.000/.000 Stephen Drew is 0-for-2 against Miley. Cole Figueroa and John Ryan Murphy have not faced Miley. Red Sox vs. Eovaldi (RHP) Pablo Sandoval (18): .706/.667/1.059, 3 doubles, 1 HR, 10 RBIs Hanley Ramirez (11): .364/.364/.727, 1 double, 1 HR, 3 RBIs Mookie Betts (6): .167/.167/.333, 1 double Mike Napoli (6): .000/.167/.000 David Ortiz (6): .500/.500/.500 Xander Bogaerts (5): .000/.000/.000 Shane Victorino (5): .400/.400/.800, 1 triple Alejandro De Aza (3): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts Brock Holt (3): .000/.000/.000 Sandy Leon is 0-for-2 against Eovaldi. No other Red Sox have faced Eovaldi.