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Ubaldo Jimenez, Wade Miley will need to be flawless for the Orioles to make the playoffs

Everyone has to be good. But Jimenez and Miley must surprise for the Orioles to compete until the end.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Time isn’t even running out for the Orioles to make their move and go on a run to make the 2017 playoffs. There’s no time left. Every game matters from here on out, and that’s not even said in the classic cliche sense. Every loss is crushing, which makes every starting pitching performance about as crucial as any throughout the year. And yes, considering they’re still in the rotation, that includes the outings of Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley.

When you take a look at the rest of the season and the fact that the Orioles still sit 4.5 games out of a wild card spot, it’s not difficult to understand that the team is going to need one or two unforeseen factors (aka miracles) to emerge to push Buck Showalter’s guys into the postseason. Things can’t stay the same — something has to jump out and create a clear advantage.

Of all the players we could spotlight, why Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley?

In all honesty, it’s all about just how vital a three or four-game stretch could be for these guys. Above almost all the others on this team, a winning effort from Ubaldo and Miley the rest of the way might just be enough to give this team that final push. It’s all about their pieces of the puzzle fitting in at just the right time.

Sure, they’ll both have to be nearly perfect and will need to put together the best stretches of their seasons, but it’s the only way the Orioles have a shot at playing into October.

A little more Ubaldomore

It’s no secret that Jimenez hasn’t inspired much confidence when he’s taken the hill — and when you look at the numbers, there’s a clear reason why. But that’s what makes the potential for a late-season breakout that much more crucial. With winning efforts the rest of the way, this team’s playoff chances certainly rise.

Sure, there’s the 6.75 ERA. And that 1.60 WHIP. And the fact that he’s allowed 23 earned runs in his last 22.1 innings. It’s true — there’s little on paper that hints at any idea that Jimenez, of all pitchers, is going to be the hero in 2017. But if he is, think about what that’ll do for postseason hopes.

He has three starts left in the regular season. Three wins in “Ubaldo games” is about three more than you might anticipate. That’s a start. Pair that with the same performance from Miley and a window begins to open.

Remember — it’s a 4.5-game disadvantage. This is about finding the opening, no matter how small it might be.

Keeping the dream alive with Miley

Miley, like Jimenez, is likely set to take the hill three more times this year in games that are, as they pretty much all are, must win games. Again, not the best case scenario, but it’s where this team is.

There’s a bit more confidence attached to Miley within the numbers after posting a 2.60 ERA in the month of August, but the inconsistent starts and the element of unknown remains. And of course, as has been the story of his entire 2017, it’s all going to come down to the ability to limit the free passes. He’s surrendered 84 in 148.2 innings for a 5.1 BB/9 rate, by far the highest of his career.

That’s what makes the forecast for three more Miley wins so difficult to buy into. He has the stuff, and when he’s on he’ll miss his fair share of bats and give this team a chance to win. But does he have three of those outings ready to post in a row here to end the year?

The bottom line

Well, the bottom line is simple: there won’t be many folks out there who think — again, of all pitchers — Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley — can combine for six (five works, too) big wins to contribute to the playoff push. But it’s baseball, and in the spirit of optimism, let’s operate under the assumption that this is going to happen.

That’s five or six wins the rest of the way, not including Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy outings. It’s not a bad spot to be in, especially if the rest of the teams in the wild card race can muddy up the situation to give the Orioles an opening. It’s going to take everything falling into place, but there is a chance for a miracle.

A miracle it’s going to take, but it can’t happen without Jimenez and Miley coming through in clutch performances.