Maybe the slow, “veteran” ramp-up always was what it was claimed to be, and what has happened is just a coincidence. But given the stop-start nature of the offseason, the age of the pitcher, the slow-playing, you just wonder if there was always some discomfort the Cubs and Wade Miley were trying to hold at bay.
In any case, whether it’s old or it’s new, the discomfort is here, and it’s going to keep Miley off the Opening Day roster, and out for an undetermined amount of time:
Wade Miley had some elbow soreness after the last time he threw and an MRI showed some inflammation. Will be shut down for 10 days and resume throwing after that.
No timeline right now, but he obviously won't be on the Cubs' Opening Day roster.
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) April 1, 2022
Miley was already going to miss the first turn through the rotation in his slower ramp-up, but the hope/expectation was that he would be there at the back, ready to go 5-ish innings. When healthy, he’s still been quite good. So this is a blow to the Cubs’ hope of getting out to a hot start.
You don’t want to risk serious injury, especially to an older pitcher early in the year after a wonky offseason, so I’m all for the Cubs shutting Miley down at the first sign of discomfort and/or inflammation. But there’s no question about it: this sucks. The Cubs need effective innings from Miley, and that’s all the more true after they’ve already seen Adbert Alzolay, Codi Heuer, and Brad Wieck go down. Roles barely even matter at this point. The Cubs just need arms to cover some innings!
Presumably, this means the opening “rotation” is going to be Kyle Hendricks, Marcus Stroman, Justin Steele, Alec Mills, and Drew Smyly, with guys like Keegan Thompson, Daniel Norris, Jesse Chavez, and maybe Michael Rucker expected to go multiple innings in relief on set days. Another spot in the bullpen opens up for a young arm (with options) to step in, and everyone is going to get a whole lotta work in these early days.
As for Miley, you hope this is just some ramp-up-related inflammation that can be calmed down with rest, and then he can resume a normal process in a couple weeks. That’ll still have him out for most of April, I’d think. Might be a best case scenario at this point.
UPDATE: Here’s Cubs manager David Ross talking about the elbow issue, which Miley has indeed been feeling for a little bit, not so much when he throws, but instead at various points during his windup:
Here’s manager David Ross on the setback with Wade Miley… pic.twitter.com/F3ye53qOYF
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) April 1, 2022
From the sound of things, Miley has been feeling it, just a little, for a while. But he had been able to ramp up throughout – including a recent live BP where he apparently looked really good. Still, the discomfort was lingering, so the Cubs would rather shut him down than have him immediately try to pitch through it. As Ross said, sometimes if you have something like that, and then you flip the switch to actual competition, that’s when it can get back if you haven’t first calmed it down.