Cubs southpaw Wade Miley has been shut down for the next 10 days after an MRI revealed inflammation in his throwing elbow. There isn’t a known timetable for Miley’s return, but the shutdown period does mean that Miley will begin the season on the injured list. This could delay Miley’s season debut until late April or even early May, but Cubs manager David Ross told reporters (including The Chicago Tribune’s Meghan Montemurro) that Miley’s injury isn’t seen as a major concern.
Miley’s absence creates at least a temporary hole in Chicago’s rotation. Miley was projected as the third starter behind Marcus Stroman and Kyle Hendricks, with Drew Smyly (another offseason veteran acquisition) now looking to be moved up a slot in the starting five. Alec Mills, Justin Steele, and Keegan Thompson are the top candidates for the final two rotation spots, though with such options as youngers Brailyn Marquez, Anderson Espinoza and Cory Abbott, and non-roster veterans like Steven Brault and Adrian Sampson, the Cubs have a lot of options on hand, if also many question marks.
Miley was one of the first players to change teams this offseason, when the Reds surprisingly placed him on waivers rather than just pay the $1MM buyout of Miley’s $10MM club option for 2022. The Cubs jumped to claim Miley and then exercise that option, thus giving Chicago some much-needed veteran rotation depth at the expense of a cost-cutting division rival.
As he enters his age-35 season, Miley has been a pretty durable pitcher for much of his career, though he tossed only 14 1/3 innings during the abbreviated 2020 season due to groin and shoulder problems. Miley rebounded with a solid effort in 2021, posting a 3.37 ERA and 49.4% grounder rate over 163 innings for Cincinnati and relying on soft contact and above-average control to counteract his lack of strikeouts or fastball velocity.
Another newly-acquired Cub might also be starting his Wrigleyville tenure on the IL, as Montemurro tweets that shortstop Andrelton Simmons is still working through some right shoulder soreness. Simmons has been throwing, but getting fully ready by Opening Day may not be feasible, since the veteran has played in only one Spring Training game.