ST. LOUIS — The Brewers were cautious of veteran southpaw Wade Miley from day one of spring training given his injury history, hoping to avoid exactly the scene that unfolded with two second-inning outs Tuesday at the Busch Stadium: Miley leaving a start alongside an athletic trainer with a left left stump.
The 36-year-old went straight to the clubhouse for an assessment as reliever Elvis Peguero took over in a draw the Brewers won, 3-2, against the Cardinals. The Brewers have been built in the offseason around their elite starting rotation, with Miley signing a one-year free agent deal to round out a squad already led by All-Stars Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy. Peralta as well as lefties Eric Lauer. and Aaron Ashby, with Adrian Houser for depth.
With a quarter of the regular season on the books, things didn’t go as planned.
Woodruff injured his right shoulder in the second week of April and is out until the end of June at the earliest. Ashby didn’t throw a single pitch because of a left shoulder injury, and when manager Craig Counsell was asked about his recovery on the final homestand, he simply replied that there was ” no update”. Houser missed the first five weeks with a groin injury before returning on the final road trip. Lauer struggled to the point that he was skipped in the rotation last week. Colin Rea, who started in place of Woodruff, was just optioned to Triple-A Nashville this week with a 5.52 ERA.
Miley had been a bright spot, carrying a 1.86 ERA until May before hitting some recent issues. Starting with the seventh inning of his May 4 start against the Rockies in Denver, and continuing with a seven-run outing against the Dodgers at home last week, he was charged with 11 earned runs in his 6 2/ 3 last rounds.
Tuesday’s exit was particularly brutal. After Miley worked a 1-2-3 first inning on nine pitches, Nolan Arenado led the bottom of the second inning with a tying home run — Arenado’s fifth straight game with a home run. Miley was pitching with two outs and a runner on board when catcher William Contreras visited the mound. When he crouched behind home plate, Contreras waved to the Brewers dugout.
Miley, however, seemed determined to keep going. But before he could throw his first pitch to Cardinals left fielder Brendan Donovan, Counsell called time from the bench and walked to the mound with head athletic trainer Scott Barringer. Miley left the game.
His injury history includes nine stints on the injured list from 2017-22, including four months last season with the Cubs due to elbow and shoulder injuries. His shoulder problem was subscapular strain, the same injury that sidelined Woodruff this year.
But when healthy, Miley is tough. Since the start of 2011, his 102 wins rank him ninth among left-handed pitchers. He was All-Star for the D-backs in 2012 and threw a no-hitter for the Reds in 2021.