The Orioles hoped they were, at the very least, getting an unremarkable but adequate starting pitcher when they acquired Wade Miley from the Mariners at the non-waiver trade deadline. They parted with fellow southpaw Ariel Miranda to get the deal done, which certainly wasn't a high price but was something.
The hope was that Miley, as the team's lone left-handed starter, would be serviceable. Passable, average, sufficient, all right, not bad, decent, fine, OK -- any of those would have sufficed. Instead, it would be difficult for the trade to look any worse right now. After eight starts in an O's uniform, Miley's numbers are amazingly bad. He's thrown about 35 innings, and he has an ERA of 8.41. That's not what the Orioles want; that's not what any team wants.
Of course, Miley isn't this bad. Few pitchers are. Besides the home run numbers (1.5 HR/9 with a HR/FB rate of 20%), Miley's peripherals suggest he's been unfortunate. His strikeouts and walk rates are fine, and he has a 4.81 FIP and an xFIP (which assumes a league average home run rate) of 3.99. And like Ubaldo Jimenez early in the season, BABIP has not been Miley's friend. With the Orioles, Miley has a BABIP of .409. His career mark is .307.
Regardless, you probably don't care what Miley's numbers should look like when the O's are clinging to that second wild card slot. And it's hardly unreasonable to expect better than what they've received from Miley.
Miley's stretch seems particularly terrible, even when comparing his performance against some of the underwhelming pitchers the Orioles have employed the last decade or two. So I went to the Baseball-Reference Play Index to investigate. I wondered which pitchers had so many consecutive terrible outings in a row to start their Orioles' career. The Orioles have had a lot of bad pitchers, and Miley is doing his best to join them.
I searched for consecutive pitching outings in O's history with the following criteria: at least one inning pitched, at least two earned runs allowed, and at least seven baserunners allowed (for starters only). And Miley is quickly working his way up the list. Miley has amassed eight such outings in a row (Baseball-Reference hasn't updated yet this morning), tied for seventh in this group with some names you've heard before (Garrett Olson, Pat Rapp, Wayne Garland) and a couple that maybe you haven't (Bill Trotter, Joe Giard). The leaders of this group are Jason Johnson and Julio Bonetti, at 16 straight games. Carl Fischer had 10 such outings, followed by Jose Mesa, Erv Palica, and Don Larsen (all with nine).
That set of criteria, it's worth noting, doesn't necessarily lead to all negative results. Giving up two runs in five or six innings while limiting the damage is not ideal, but it's not terrible, either. You probably need some luck and/or a good defense behind you. And Miley has not been lucky (and if you watched the beginning of last night's game against the Red Sox, the O's defense did him no favors).
Considering Miley's BABIP and high home run rate, you'd figure some positive results are on the horizon. It's hard for any pitcher to sustain an ERA over 8 over this many starts. But at this point, there isn't really a whole lot the Orioles can do. Because of the wear and tear on Chris Tillman, the high workload of Dylan Bundy, and the uncertainty of Yovani Gallardo and Jimenez, the O's best course of action may be to proceed with their flawed collection of six starters.
Fortunately for the O's, after the season, Miley... oh, right. He's under contract next year for about $9 million. That's more than a fair price for an average starting pitcher, so perhaps that figure won't look so bad in a couple months. It would be tough, though, for it to look much worse.