Miley's struggles accentuate O's lack of rotation punch - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Miley’s struggles accentuate O’s lack of rotation punch

After a first inning in which he allowed walks to the first two batters and ultimately gave up three runs, Orioles lefty Wade Miley settled down and permitted just one more run through the rest of his outing Sunday afternoon.

Although in September in the AL East, when every game is crucial, that’s not good enough.

I know it, you know it and Miley certainly knows it.

“When you don’t throw strikes, it’s tough,” Miley said. “You put yourself on your heels right out of the gate.”

Miley has handled himself pretty well since he came to Baltimore in a trade with the Seattle Mariners (for Ariel Miranda) on July 31. When he pitches poorly – he’s allowed four or more runs in four of his seven starts as an Oriole – there are no excuses. The guy is accountable.

And that’s important.

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But he has to be more than that, of course.

Miley entered Sunday’s game with a 7.14 ERA in six starts with the Orioles (and a 5.43 ERA overall). After giving up four runs in five innings Sunday – on five hits and four walks – his Orioles’ ERA basically stayed the same, 7.15.

You could make the argument that once he walked the first two batters Miley became a victim of unfortunate luck. Orioles manager Buck Showalter made that argument.

“Wade gave up a couple walks and a duck flare and then a ground ball that rolled through, and the next thing you know, we’re down 3-0,” Showalter said. “But he held it together and kept us in the game. I was proud of that.”

Still, gutty or not, a 7.15 ERA doesn’t work in any scenario, especially after seven starts. And the stakes only get higher now.

In August, I couldn’t envision a scenario in which Miley wasn’t in the rotation for the rest of this season. He’s the club’s only left-handed starter. He’s a veteran. He’s signed here for next year, too, at a guaranteed $9.25 million.

But now that Chris Tillman is expected back on Sunday and with Ubaldo Jimenez – wait for it –pitching well suddenly, maybe the leash on Miley has tightened.

The bottom line is that Miley was the best the Orioles could do at the trade deadline due to their lack of trade chips and the dearth of starting pitching throughout the game.

That’s not Miley’s fault.

That’s the fault of the organization as a whole: those who pick the players for the roster, sign the checks and draft and develop a farm system that couldn’t yield a higher-ceiling deadline acquisition.

Everyone knew this team needed rotation help in the winter. To get a true ace, though, the commitment and cost were exorbitant bordering on insane: David Price at seven years and $217 million; Zack Greinke at six years and $206.5 million; Johnny Cueto at six years and $130 million.

So the Orioles added starting pitching this offseason in Yovani Gallardo (two years, $22 million) and then Miley in July.

And here we are in September with Miley struggling and Gallardo sporting a 5.62 ERA (and Jimenez with a 6.46 ERA).

It’s conceivable that Miley turns things around. His career ERA is 4.18. In his previous two starts before Sunday he allowed five runs in 12 innings versus two good offenses (3.75 ERA).

What’s evident, though, is that the Orioles really needed a starter to enter this rotation and provide a quality outing each time.

That hasn’t happened. And the fingers can be pointed in plenty of directions – not just Miley’s way.

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