Let’s start with the obvious.
Wade Miley can’t get another start for the Orioles this month while they have five healthy pitchers in the rotation. Not with Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Yovani Gallardo and Ubaldo Jimenez currently much better options.
Yes, Miley is left-handed, the team’s only starting southpaw. Plus, he has a track record that shows he’s not usually this bad, and Orioles manager Buck Showalter is a big believer in track records.
But not now. Not in September with every game meaning so much.
Miley recorded four outs Monday while giving up eight hits, one walk and six runs. It’s the second time in five starts that he’s allowed six runs without getting out of the second inning.
In eight starts since being traded over from Seattle on July 31, the 29-year-old lefty with the 4.23 career ERA has an unacceptable 8.41 ERA for the Orioles. He’s given up 53 hits and 13 walks in 35 1/3 innings – nearly two baserunners per inning.
Eight games are a small sample size, but Miley pitched to a 4.98 ERA in 19 starts for the Mariners before the trade. He leaves too many pitches over the plate and is utterly hittable.
This isn’t personal. Miley seems like a solid guy. He’s been stand-up since he’s been in Baltimore, continually answering questions about what went wrong after nearly every start.
But the bottom line is this is not the time to try and turn Miley around. He’s signed through next season (he’s guaranteed roughly $9.4 million with a $12 million option for 2018). There will be an opportunity to get him going next year. For now, though, Miley needs to be put in the bullpen and pitch in long relief in games that are out of hand – one way or the other.
Monday was the wrong spot: Mid-September at Fenway Park against a first-place team to begin a crucial series. Miley’s performance crushed the Orioles before Red Sox fans could finish their first Sam Adams.
I’m not worried about the Orioles being shell-shocked for the rest of this series. They have shown an impeccable ability this year to forget all yesterdays.
But Showalter can’t keep putting Miley out there at a rate of one quality start every four times he’s on the mound.
For the record, I didn’t oppose the Miley trade in July. The Orioles needed a left-hander in the rotation, and the pitcher they gave up, Cuban rookie Ariel Miranda, is a swingman at best in the majors.
Miley hadn’t pitched well in his career against the American League East or at Camden Yards, so he certainly wasn’t a perfect fit. But given the cost of starting pitching on the trade market, the lack of quality options and the dearth of high-level prospects in the Orioles’ organization, I thought at the time it was worth the gamble to acquire Miley.
That was July. This is September.
The stakes are now too high to keep rolling him out there in a pennant race.