MILWAUKEE -- Wade Miley went from arguably the Brewers' most ill-timed injury all season to starting Game 2 of the National League Championship Series, and it all started with a chat in the training room.
It was March 21, the day before Milwaukee had to declare whether Miley, a non-roster invitee vying for a spot in the starting rotation, would have a spot on the Opening Day roster. It was looking good for him. Save for one blow-up start against Cincinnati, Miley had pitched extremely well.
But in his final outing before decision day, Miley suffered a slight tear of his left groin while pitching against the A's. As he limped off the field, his future with the organization was suddenly up in the air.
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But only briefly.
"David had beat me to the training room that day," said Miley, referring to Brewers GM David Stearns. "We had a small conversation immediately after it happened, so I really wasn't worried about having to go anywhere else. I like what he said.
"It's just an exciting time now. You look back seven months later, and you have a chance to play in the NLCS and a chance to go to the World Series."
Having seen enough in the spring to believe he warranted patience, the Brewers struck an agreement with Miley's agent to keep him in the organization to rehab the injury. Miley made it to the Majors on May 2 and beat the Reds, then pitched six days later against the Indians and suffered a right oblique strain after one out.
Again, Milwaukee stuck with him, and Miley joined the rotation for good on July 12. He's made 17 starts for the Brewers, including 4 2/3 scoreless innings in Game 3 of the NL Division Series against the Rockies, and didn't surrender more than three earned runs in any of them.
Miley credited an offseason project in which he remade his mechanics to avoid the control problems that produced a Major League-worst 93 walks with the Orioles in 2017. Adding a cutter helped. Miley implemented it last year and threw it about 11 percent of the time. This year, he nearly quadrupled that, making it his dominant pitch.
"I would give Wade a lot of credit there too, because Wade was on a Minor League contract. He was rehabbing under a Minor League contract," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "In our eyes, he had made the team, and he had made an impression on us that he was going to be in the rotation. He had pitched that well, and we thought he had made some changes that he was going to have success. So we wanted him to stick around.
"I think the fact that he chose to stick around says a lot about him, I think as much as anything, because, again, he could have gone anywhere else. And maybe the way he pitched, somebody gives him a Major League deal at that point. I don't know. … But I give him a lot of credit for sticking it out in that situation and trusting us that he was going to be part of this."
After getting healthy in time to make five September starts for the Brewers, right-hander Zach Davies had hoped to be part of the team's postseason plan. He was disappointed to be left off the roster for the second straight series.
Chase Anderson, Milwaukee's Opening Day starter, was in the same position.
The two had talked about it "a little bit," Davies said. "It's a new scenario for both of us. It's a new scenario for all of us, really. … You definitely want to be on the active roster for the playoffs, but there's a whole career ahead. Being bent out of shape about it is not going to help my career. The team is where it's all. We're all in the playoffs together."
Davies was intent on staying sharp in case an injury opens a spot. He was one of the pitchers who threw to hitters during a team workout on Wednesday.
What might have been
Counsell was asked Friday about the impact of outfielder Curtis Granderson, acquired in an Aug. 31 trade with the Blue Jays. Counsell said it wasn't the first time the Brewers tried to acquire the veteran.
"We tried last year," Counsell said. "I was hopeful last year. We tried to get him. We were unable, but we were able to add him this year, and he made a big impact in the month of September. When you add guys like that, I think they're able to lift everybody else up, and he's done just that, as some other guys have as well."