Left-hander Wade Miley makes his long-awaited Chicago Cubs debut Tuesday night when he opposes the host San Diego Padres.
The 35-year-old veteran, claimed by the Cubs last winter off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds, has been on the injured list since the start of the season due to left elbow inflammation.
His assignment Tuesday looks tough on paper. The Padres are tied for the third-best record in the National League, but they also are in the midst of an offensive blackout.
San Diego was shut out in two of its past three games and has scored in exactly one of the past 30 innings — all of the runs coming on Jorge Alfaro’s two-out, walk-off, three-run homer on Sunday against the Miami Marlins.
Over the first five games of the current homestand, the Padres have scored eight runs while hitting .173 (26-for-150) with two doubles, a triple, three home runs and 16 walks for a .253 on-base percentage and a .260 slugging percentage. They have also grounded into four double plays.
“It’s the ebb and flow of the season and the starting pitchers we’ve faced,” Padres third base coach Matt Williams said after the Monday night game while standing in for ailing manager Bob Melvin. “It’s time to get back to knowing what we can do individually and collectively.”
The amazing thing is the Padres are 3-2 thus far on the homestand despite their offensive woes. The starting pitching and defense have been that good.
On Tuesday, it will be Miley against another veteran who recently came off the injured list. San Diego right-hander Mike Clevinger (0-0, 5.79 ERA) will be making his second start since having a second round of Tommy John surgery at the end of the 2020 season.
“I didn’t know if I would ever pitch again,” Clevinger said on Wednesday after giving up three runs on four hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings at Cleveland.
Clevinger is now part of a strong, six-man San Diego rotation. Miley, meanwhile, is plugging a hole in a Chicago rotation that ranks 27th in the major leagues in both ERA (4.90) and 26th in innings pitched (123).
“We picked Miley up in hopes of getting who he’s been,” said Cubs manager David Ross of the pitcher who went 12-7 with a 3.37 ERA in 28 starts with the Reds last season.
“He’s a guy who knows how to compete,” Ross continued. “He knows how to navigate a lineup. He’s been part of a lot of winning. He’s a veteran presence and definitely a stabilizing force in this rotation.”
The Cubs on Tuesday will attempt to post a second straight victory for the first time since beating the Tampa Bay Rays on April 17 and 18. Since then, Chicago is 4-14.
The Cubs had also been in an offensive slump before amassing 11 hits in a 6-0 win over the Padres on Monday.
Ross shook up the lineup, moving catcher Willson Contreras into the leadoff slot.
“I did that because I wanted to produce a little energy,” the manager said.
The move worked, as Contreras went 3-for-4 and had a hand in three of the Cubs’ first four runs.
–Field Level Media