CHICAGO -- The Brewers didn't rehab Wade Miley only to let him go, so they are bringing him to the big leagues.
Miley, the veteran left-hander who was on the brink of making Milwaukee's Opening Day rotation when he suffered a groin injury in the final week of Spring Training, will join the Brewers' starting rotation on Wednesday in Cincinnati. The team is moving another lefty, Brent Suter, to the bullpen to make room for Miley, and it will have to make 25- and 40-man roster moves before Wednesday's game.
"Where we came down is Wade had a good camp, and had impressed us to the point he was most likely going to make the team," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He unfortunately got injured, but once he got healthy he's gone out and pitched, in our eyes, in the same manner he pitched in Spring Training.
"I think he earned the opportunity."
In doing so, Miley also earned a paycheck. When he's added to the roster, the remaining proration of the $2.5 million he was promised on a Minor League contract will become guaranteed. Another $3.2 million is available in incentives for both starts and relief appearances.
Miley, 31, was a National League All-Star for the D-backs in 2012, when he finished second in NL Rookie of the Year Award balloting, but he has exceeded one win over replacement level in only one season since. The past two seasons were particularly rough, as Miley went 17-28 with a 5.48 ERA in 323 1/3 innings for the Mariners and Orioles and issued a Major League-worst 93 walks in 2017.
The Brewers are banking that the mechanical changes Miley made over the winter will pay off. He had one blow-up start against the Reds in Spring Training, as he was tagged for seven earned runs on 10 hits in three innings, but he pitched to a 2.12 ERA with 18 strikeouts over 17 innings in four other starts and one relief appearance.
Suter, who has a 5.34 ERA in six starts but has produced the softest contact among Major League starters -- an 82.8-mph average exit velocity, according to Statcast™ -- will be available in relief beginning Tuesday.
"I think he can have an impact in the bullpen," Counsell said. "I think he did OK as a starter. It was some good moments, some tough moments. … He's performed in that [relief] role. He is a very good piece that we don't have down there, that fits very well. He's a versatile pitcher."
"I definitely tend toward starting a little bit, because working with [pitching coach Derek Johnson] and getting that routine going can really help you get better," said Suter, "but I'm happy to join a [bullpen] unit that's really pitching for each other right now. There's a great camaraderie down there. And listen, Wade has earned it, too."
Slow and steady for Nelson
Jimmy Nelson is still throwing on flat ground at 150 feet in his comeback from right shoulder surgery, patiently waiting for the day he gets to pitch on a mound again. He remains ahead of schedule, according to both Nelson and Counsell.
"We're just looking to see consistency," Nelson said. "What we want is 5-6 good days in a row. It doesn't make sense to do a bullpen [session] before that."
Said Counsell: "We've got to put this in perspective. He got to this place so fast that we've got to give him time to get over hurdles. He's ahead of schedule, but that doesn't mean we are going to fly through this thing. He's not 'stuck.' He's playing catch, and he has to clear hurdles to get to the next step. Everything is, in our eyes, going really well. It's not like it's set in concrete how the rehab goes. I'm thrilled where he's at right now."
On second thought
When No. 4 Brewers prospect Luis Ortiz was scratched from a scheduled start Saturday and placed on Double-A Biloxi's disabled list with a tight left hamstring, the thinking was he would miss only one start. Now, the team expects to hold Ortiz out a bit longer than that, general manager David Stearns said, since Ortiz had trouble with the same hamstring last season.
The diagnosis, however, has not changed. The Brewers consider the injury relatively minor.