Cubs activate Wade Miley for start against Padres as teams take a look at potential trade deadline candidates

The Cubs will activate left-handed starting pitcher Wade Miley from the injured list in time to start Tuesday night in San Diego, manager David Ross publicly confirmed Monday night.

The Cubs traded Miley, a 35-year-old left-hander, from the Reds last November, and he’s making $10 million this season before reaching free agency. He has been out of spring training so far this season due to an infection in his left elbow. He made a Triple-A rehab start and it was a dandy, as Miley gave up just two hits in four scoreless innings and hit three hitters without walking anyone.

Miley was very good for the Reds last season, going 12-7 with a 3.37 ERA (140 ERA+), 1.33 WHIP and 125 strikeouts in 163 innings. He threw a no-hitter.

Given that the Cubs are 10-18 and quite unlikely to compete at this point this season, Miley’s return is particularly notable as a potential showcase for other teams in the league.

In fact, it’s pretty fun that it follows Kyle Hendricks’ near-shutout on Monday night. He got through 8 2/3 before being pulled as it appeared he was out of gas (he was even smiling and laughing as he was pulled).

I mention it’s fun because it’s possible the Cubs will have a pair of starters on the trade block in July that are pitch-to-contact types as opposed to fireballing types that will make bigger headlines.

Hendricks isn’t nearly as obviously a candidate as Miley. He signed for $14 million in 2023 (there’s a vesting option for 2024, but he’d need to finish in the top three on Cy Young’s vote, and that proverbial ship has sailed). The Cubs have maintained they will not stage a massive teardown, and last offseason they signed the likes of Marcus Stroman and Seiya Suzuki to back that up.

Still, Hendricks is 32, past his prime, and the Cubs aren’t exactly on the verge of a big turnaround.

He’s also able to help teams, especially when there’s a stall of power arms where a front office thinks a tempo change guy would help. He’s been fickle, but he’s shut down playoff-caliber teams in the Brewers and Padres so far this year. He was also pretty good against the Rays, even when fighting with command. There’s still enough in the tank to make the difference in big games. He’s no stranger to these, either, having started in 11 playoff games (including NLCS and World Series crunch games in 2016) for the Cubs.

Miley, of course, had a 1.23 ERA in four starts (three starts really, since he went first batter in one of them and was removed as part of a strategy) in the 2018 NLCS for the Brewers.

In Miley and Hendricks, the Cubs have two of the more down-to-earth low-strikeout starters in the league.

Several teams will be looking for pitching help ahead of the July trading close this year. There’s no need to go into an exhaustive list, as injuries and other circumstances will change the equation (who would have predicted Max Scherzer for the Dodgers on May 10 last year, for example?).

A top tier of available starters will include high strikeout types and possibly some aces like last year’s Scherzer. Aside from those guys, keep an eye on the Cubs with Miley and maybe even Hendricks. They might not be nearly as “sexy” in performance as some of the other names, but there’s value. Cubs activate Wade Miley for start against Padres as teams take a look at potential trade deadline candidates

Justin Scacco

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