Miley departs in 2nd inning with left lat injury

May 17th, 2023

ST. LOUIS -- The Brewers were cautious with veteran left-hander from the first day of Spring Training given his injury history, hoping to avoid exactly the scene that unfolded with two outs in the second inning on Tuesday at Busch Stadium: Miley leaving a start alongside an athletic trainer.

The 36-year-old’s initial diagnosis was a left lat strain, and while it will require an MRI scan back in Milwaukee on Wednesday to get a firm diagnosis, the Brewers already knew Tuesday night that Miley will land on the 15-day injured list. That was tough news for Miley after he missed about four months of last season with the Cubs because of arm injuries.

“I made a lot of changes this offseason and through Spring Training; I’ve kind of taken a step forward in taking care of myself a little bit,” Miley said. “The training staff’s been awesome in keeping me healthy. My shoulder’s been a non-issue since Spring Training. My elbow’s been the thing that’s bothering me more than anything.

“For this to pop up, it’s baseball. We go through injuries. I’ve just got to get through it and hopefully not too long and get back out there.”

Miley went straight into the clubhouse for evaluation while reliever Elvis Peguero took over in a tie ballgame the Brewers went on to win, 3-2, over the Cardinals. The Brewers were built in the offseason around their elite starting rotation, with Miley signed to a a one-year free-agent deal to fill out a group already led by All-Stars Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta plus left-handers Eric Lauer and Aaron Ashby, with Adrian Houser for depth.

With a quarter of the regular season in the books, things have not gone to plan.

Woodruff went down with a right shoulder injury in the second week of April and is out until late June at the very earliest. Ashby hasn’t thrown a single pitch because of a left shoulder injury, and when manager Craig Counsell was asked about his recovery on the last homestand he simply answered that there was “no update.” Houser missed the first five weeks with a groin injury before returning on the last road trip. Lauer scuffled to the point he was skipped in the rotation last week. Colin Rea, who’d been starting in Woodruff’s spot, 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 into the month of May before running into some recent trouble. 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’s been charged with 11 earned runs in his last 6 2/3 innings.

Tuesday’s exit was particularly abrupt. After Miley worked a 1-2-3 first inning on nine pitches, Nolan Arenado led off the bottom of the second inning with a game-tying home run -- Arenado’s fifth straight game with a homer. Miley was pitching with two outs and a runner aboard when catcher William Contreras visited the mound. When he crouched back behind home plate, Contreras signaled to the Brewers dugout.

Miley, though, appeared intent on continuing. But before he could throw his first pitch to Cardinals left fielder Brendan Donovan, Counsell called time from the bench and went to the mound with head athletic trainer Scott Barringer. Miley left the game.

“I’ve dealt with some weird things before and thought I would keep going,” Miley said. “That was probably not the best idea, but I was able to get through a couple of outs and it progressively got worse with each pitch I threw. The slider was the one pitch that I didn’t feel anything on so I was just gonna throw all sliders to the next lefty and just not tell anybody until I got in the dugout. 

“But apparently they saw something they didn’t like and Scott came out there. It’s probably for the best, hopefully.”

His injury history includes nine stints on the injured list from 2017-22, including missing four months of last season with the Cubs because of elbow and shoulder injuries. His shoulder issue was a subscapular strain, the same injury that has sidelined Woodruff this year.

But when he’s healthy, Miley is tough. Since the start of 2011, his 102 victories are ninth among left-handed pitchers. He was an All-Star for the D-backs in 2012 and threw a no-hitter for the Reds in 2021.