PHOENIX – Diamondbacks rookie left-hander Wade Miley added Wednesday night to what’s been an incredible season so far, though he seems to be the only one oblivious to the degree of his success. He’s still just happy to be here.
“I was just excited from Day 1 when (manager Kirk Gibson) told be me I was going to be on the team,” Miley said Wednesday night. “I didn’t care if I was the bullpen catcher.”
The bullpen catcher he is not. In fact, with pitching numbers that lead all rookies, Miley has been the D-backs’ most effective starter and very well could be in line for an All-Star appearance. Not bad for a 25th man originally kept on as a long reliever.
Miley notched another dominant performance Wednesday night in a 6-1 win over the Rockies. In getting his NL rookie-best seventh win (tied with Texas’ Yu Darvish for the league lead among rookies), Miley threw a season-high eight innings and allowed one earned run on just three hits while striking out five.
“He was outstanding,” Gibson said. “It’s the same Wade we’ve seen, and he went a little deeper today.”
In addition to his seven wins – one off the NL lead – Miley owns a sparkling 2.53 ERA. That’s easily the best among rookies, is 0.81 points better than Darvish and seventh-best overall in the NL.
With Ian Kennedy having gone through a rough patch, Daniel Hudson missing time with a shoulder injury and Trevor Cahill still searching for consistency, Miley’s reliability in the rotation has been one of the reasons the D-backs have avoided collapse.
“He’s been a rock for us,” Gibson said. “He trusts the game plan, he trusts his catcher and he makes it easy on himself.”
How Miley went from long reliever to apparent staff ace is a little complicated. He twice bailed out bad outings by former starter Josh Collmenter before getting a shot of his own when Hudson went on the disabled list.
Then it was unclear if Miley would remain in the rotation, even after six shutout innings in his first start. He did get another shot, and his one-hit, no-earned run outing essentially solidified a spot in the rotation. But ask the 25-year-old what the secret’s been to his success and you’ll hear little more than “just throwing strikes.”
“I’m trying to stick with what we started with,” Miley said. “Everything’s working.”
Indeed, everything is working. So much so that local and national buzz has Miley an early contender for the NL Rookie of the Year Award. It may be early, but Miley is certainly working on a compelling case. He, of course, isn’t thinking about individual honors with the D-backs running third in the NL West.
“I just try not to think about that too much,” Miley said. “Just stay focused on what we’re trying to do as a team and we’ll go from there.”
And how about the talk of Miley as the D-backs’ potential All-Star Game representative? He’s been their most consistent player overall, pitcher or otherwise. Justin Upton has scuffled most of the year so far, and Chris Young hasn’t been the same since injuring his shoulder.
“I don’t even listen to that stuff,” Miley said. “We just want to get on a roll as a team. We’ve been struggling.”
There’s no way of knowing how long Miley will maintain the results he has seen so far, but he’s undoubtedly off to a very good start. If there were any knock against him Wednesday night, it was his 0 for 3 performance at the plate.
That’s no unusual line for a pitcher, and no one was actually criticizing him, but with an eight-game hitting streak entering the night, Miley had set the bar perhaps a bit high for himself. He knows he is no Silver Slugger, though, and was not lobbying for another at-bat with two outs in the eighth and Colorado reliever Rex Brothers on the mound.
“That dude was throwing 95,” Miley said. “I didn’t have a chance.”