The final spring training start for Wade Miley was a crucial one for the Orioles to make a decision about his health. Before Tuesday’s game against the Braves, manager Buck Showalter indicated to Orioles reporters that Miley could be the third or fourth starter, or hit the disabled list, depending on how Miley felt.
In the course of the 5-4 victory for the O’s, Miley pitched the four innings that they were expecting him to post. However, following the game, Showalter still did not commit to Miley being a part of the rotation from the get-go. He told reporters that he would have to wait and see how Miley feels in a few days. Opening Day is only a few days away! There’s not much time left to figure this out.
MASN’s Roch Kubatko noted that being able to get through four innings was important because a lengthy battle with the flu left questions about Miley’s stamina for a full start’s workload. A four inning start doesn’t entirely answer those questions, but he met the target that they set for today, at least. Miley threw 64 pitches over his four innings on Tuesday.
For his part, Miley didn’t sound like a guy who had any questions remaining about his stamina when he spoke to O’s reporters following his outing:
Miley: "I felt good. I felt like I didn’t get super tired at all. Got the pitch count back to where I wanted to be at. Everything went well"— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) March 28, 2017
The off days early in the schedule mean that the Orioles won’t need their fourth starter until April 9. Opening Day starter Kevin Gausman can pitch on regular rest on Saturday, April 8, the fourth game of the season. So while the start of the season is close, they do have an extra few days to play with to try to get Miley back to where they want him to be, if that’s a concern for the team.
With a 10-day disabled list being the new standard in baseball’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Orioles could even briefly hide Miley and squeeze out yet another spot for their bench for the first few games of the season. Dan Duquette is salivating over the possibility, I’m sure.
It’s one more unexpected question mark hanging over the roster as Opening Day approaches. If Miley needs even a couple of rehab starts to rebuild his stamina, the competition for not just the sixth starter spot but also the seventh becomes important. Are you ready for another rotation that possibly includes both Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright?