When your team gives you an 8-0 lead after one inning of work, the playbook becomes pretty straightforward: Throw strikes, work fast. Some pitchers don’t respond well to that directive (it’s kind of like watching a usually dominant closer struggling in non-save situations). Others do just fine. Last night, in his Wrigley Field debut as a Chicago Cub, Wade Miley was the latter.
Working incredibly fast, Miley tossed 7.0 shutout innings with no walks, just one hit, and six strikeouts. In fact, he went three-up, three-down in all but one inning, the 5th, during which he went four-up, three down after a single to left field. It was a masterclass of pitching with a lead.
After the game, Cubs catcher Yan Gomes even joked that he doesn’t “know if [Miley] really looks” at him in-between pitches: “By the time I’m trying to set up to get there, I’ve just got to make sure I catch it and present it well.”
Working quickly was clearly messing with the Pirates hitters, and it’s why Michael Chavis interrupted his at-bats with multiple late timeouts that, frankly, shouldn’t have been granted. But I already got my gripes out on his behalf earlier this morning, and Gomes, Miley, and Cubs Manager David Ross didn’t have a problem with it: “I think you’re going to see that with Wade,” Ross said. “When we competed against him in Cincinnati, everybody’s going to do that, because hitters want to be comfortable and they’ve got their routine. He’s got to be used to that by now.”
That was only Miley’s second start with the Cubs this season, as he was delayed out of the gate with elbow soreness. That’s also why he was removed from the game with a one-hitter at 83 pitches. His first start of the season was more of a mixed bag, with the results looking a bit worse than the actual performance, but last night, Miley was on his game from the jump, throwing strike after strike after strike, especially to begin each plate appearance.
First-pitch strike for Miley last night: 68.2%
First pitch strike League Average: 61.5%
Work fast, throw strikes.
Miley also netted 12 whiffs on the night, with five a piece from his changeup and slider, the latter of which was particularly nasty:
By GameScore, that was the fourth best start of Miley’s entire career (and that’s out of 279 starts!).
And that’s exactly the sort of stabilizing, veteran presence the Cubs envisioned when they claimed Miley off waivers from the Reds at the very beginning of the offseason. And with Marcus Stroman (plus Adbert Alzolay and Alec Mills) out, it’s very nice to have him back in the fold.
The Cubs rotation has had some really nice success lately, and with Stroman (and perhaps Mills) coming back soon, and Miley almost up to full speed, we might see that trend continue.
The #Cubs have had some *really* great starts over the last week.
Hendricks (5/9 @Padres): 8.2 IP, 3H, 0ER, 1BB, 7Ks
Hendricks (5/14 @Dbacks): 5.2 IP, 5H, 1ER, 2BB, 2Ks
Steele (5/15 @Dbacks): 6.0 IP, 3H, 1ER, 2BB, 10Ks
Miley (5/16 vs. @Pirates): 7.0 IP, 1H, 0ER, 0BB, 6Ks
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) May 17, 2022