As we head into the second-to-last week of Spring Training, the Milwaukee Brewers are still trying to sort out who will fill out the back end of their starting rotation.
They’ve reportedly toyed with the idea of starting the year with only four named starters as a way to keep an extra position player -- likely Jesus Aguilar -- on the roster until a 5th starter is needed 8 games into the season. Still, the rotation picture isn’t much cleared than it was a couple weeks ago. Aside from Aaron Wilkerson being optioned to minor league camp and Yovani Gallardo being told he’ll have to make the team as a reliever, the pool of candidates hasn’t been trimmed all that much.
Deadlines lead to decisions, though, and the Brewers have one coming up in the next week. Wade Miley will be need to be informed by Thursday whether he’s made the team, or be paid a $100,000 retention bonus if he agrees to being sent to minor league camp.
Unfortunately for Miley, his first bad outing came less than a week before that deadline. The Cincinnati Reds roughed him up for 10 hits and 7 runs -- including a 2-run home run to opposing pitcher Michael Lorenzen -- in 3 innings. Miley says he was finally able to get a feel for his curveball in the outing, but the Reds were sitting on his fastball and crushing anything in the strike zone:
“It was just one of those days. You just try to find some positives, correct the negatives, then flush it and move on. You can’t read too much into it. Obviously it’s not the best time for this, but it’s baseball.”
Without a TV feed of the game, it’s hard to tell just how hard the Reds hit Miley, but manager Craig Counsell said quite a few grounders found their way to the infield.
“They did square some balls up. There were six balls on the ground that got through also. I think you have to evaluate everything, evaluate the whole spring. That’s how you do it.”
It’s entirely possible the Brewers’ defensive lineup for the afternoon didn’t do Miley many favors. Eric Sogard was playing shortstop, Jonathan Villar was at second base and Eric Thames was at first base.
Still, it’s poor timing for Miley, who -- whether he was hurt by some bad luck or not -- still said he struggled with location and responded by falling into the same bad habits he had last year, when he pitched poorly for the Baltimore Orioles.
Both Brent Suter -- who also got roughed up for the first time this spring -- and Miley have one more scheduled appearance before Miley’s deadline day. While Craig Counsell and David Stearns have never been a duo to make snap decisions based on the most recent results (especially spring training results), it’s still another data point for them to consider in the next week, and could possibly keep them from using Junior Guerra’s newfound 4th option right away.