The Cardinals placed lefty Andrew Miller on the 10-day injured list due to shoulder fatigue, the team announced. Right-hander Junior Fernandez was activated from the injured list in a corresponding move.
Miller’s IL visit is apparently “just a recovery thing,” manager Mike Shildt told MLB.com’s Anne Rogers and other reporters. Like many other Cardinals players, Miller is still getting back up to full speed following the team’s coronavirus outbreak-driven stoppage in play. To that end, Fernandez himself is returning after a positive COVID-19 sidelined him for much of the season, as the rookie has only appeared in one game this season. Rogers also notes that infielder Edmundo Sosa was assigned to the Cardinals’ alternate training site after being activated today from the team’s coronavirus injured list.
Shildt feels Miller will be back after the 10-day minimum stay, saying that “he’s been a warrior and just was honest and said, ’I could probably keep going and pushing through it,’ but I think we’d all feel better if we could get it behind him.”
Miller has a 4.76 ERA through 5 2/3 innings this season, with the bulk of that damage coming in one tough outing (two earned runs over one-third of an inning) against the Cubs on August 19. The left-hander has held opponents scoreless in five of his other six appearances this season.
Even a minimal visit to the injured list will create a bit of extra drama in regards to Miller’s contractual status. His original two-year, $25MM deal carries a $12MM club option for 2021 that was originally set to become guaranteed with at least 110 games pitched over the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Rogers writes that Miller is seven games short of triggering his vesting option, meaning that the 37 appearances he still required (after pitching in 73 games in 2019) was prorated down to 14 appearances, as per the normal prorated rate of a 60-game schedule. Assuming Miller is back in 10 days or not much beyond, however, he should still have time left to bank his remaining seven games, though his usage down the stretch could be worth observing in the season’s final weeks.