Just a day after activating Wade Miley from the 15-day injured list, the Cubs are sending Miley back to the IL with another strain in his left shoulder. Right-hander Michael Rucker was called up from Triple-A in the corresponding move.
Miley tossed three scoreless innings in his start against the Yankees yesterday, but then had to leave the game while warming up prior to the fourth inning. The veteran left-hander will now return to the IL for what will likely be a longer absence, given the recurring nature of the injury.
Miley’s first shoulder strain cost him a month of action, and he also missed just over a month at the start of the season due to elbow inflammation during Spring Training. All these injuries have limited Miley to only four starts and 19 innings, though he has posted a 2.84 ERA when he has been able to take the field.
In the near term, the top priority is simply Miley’s health, as the hope is that his shoulder strain isn’t indicative of a bigger problem. Given the timing of his latest IL visit, there must now be uncertainty that Miley will be able to return at all prior to the August 2 trade deadline, let alone return and pitch well enough to attract the attention of a team in need of rotation help. The Cubs look like they’ll be sellers at the deadline, and since Miley is scheduled to be a free agent this winter, he stands out as an obvious rental piece if he is healthy.
Marcus Stroman and Drew Smyly are also on the 15-day IL, so the Cubs again find themselves particularly short-handed in the rotation. Mark Leiter Jr. is the likeliest candidate to fill Miley’s rotation spot, joining veteran Kyle Hendricks and then the less-experienced trio of Justin Steele, Keegan Thompson, and Matt Swarmer.