Wade Miley was a 24-year-old rookie in 2011 when he pitched in eight games and made seven starts for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Diamondbacks had 94 wins that year and captured the NL West title before losing to the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Division Series.
Miley didn’t pitch in the playoffs, but figured he’d get a chance as his career progressed.
He hasn’t. He hasn’t played for an above-.500 team for a full season since he was a rookie.
So when he was traded from the Seattle Mariners to the Orioles on Monday, there was one thought on his mind. The biggest of all motivators, he said: A chance to finally pitch in the postseason.
“That’s huge. I was a part of it in 2011 in Arizona and just the way, in that August and September, we were making that playoff push and that excitement that you get. The playoffs are like a whole new season,” Miley, 29, said. “So, obviously, I would love to get back and do that, and then actually be a part of the playoffs and get to pitch in the playoffs, in meaningful games like that.”
Miley is known as a fierce competitor. And he said what drives him most is to win on the biggest stage.
“It’s that fire. It’s what we all play for,” he said. “A bunch of grown men are playing for one ring at the end of the year. It’s kind of crazy, but that’s the goal.”
Miley’s pursuit of that ring in Baltimore begins Thursday evening, when he attempts to help the Orioles sweep the Texas Rangers, who entered this three-game series on Tuesday with the best record in the AL.
It’ll be his first outing as an Oriole. And it comes at Camden Yards.
“I’m looking forward to pitching in front of these guys,” he said. “I’ve pitched here before. It’s a great fan base, so it’s going to be good to go out there and give us a chance to win.”
The Orioles initially were going to have former Ranger Yovani Gallardo start Thursday, but manager Buck Showalter changed his mind. It’s not because Showalter wants Miley’s debut to be in Baltimore.
It’s because Miley allowed just one hit against the Chicago Cubs in a win for the Mariners Saturday and because Miley has made four quality starts in his last five outings. Showalter wants to keep him on turn, and keep him in a rhythm.
“I think having him sit around too long (would be counterproductive),” Showalter said. “He’s pitching well. Want to keep the ball in his hand.”
Miley has made three starts at Camden Yards as a visitor. He is 1-2 with an 8.03 ERA. In six outings against the Rangers, he is 1-4 with a 5.55 ERA. None of that matters now, though. He’s in a different uniform with a redefined purpose.
He said he’s not sure how he’ll be received by the home crowd. But if succeeds, he has an idea.
“Hopefully, if I throw well it’ll be good. So I can kind of control my own destiny in that department as far as that goes,” he said. “But I’m just looking forward to the opportunity of being on a first place team and trying to keep it there.”
There is one other big difference between Thursday’s Miley and the one that had success in the past. There’s no long hair. No scruffy beard. Just a goatee. He’s adhering to the club’s facial hair rules. That, he says, is the least of his concerns. He’s with a playoff contender now.
“I don’t want to draw any attention to myself, the beard can come off in a heartbeat, no problem,” he said. “I’m just excited for the opportunity. This will be the first time in August (since 2011) that I’ve pitched for a first-place team, so I’m just looking forward to it.”