ST. LOUIS — Cubs starting pitcher Wade Miley said a little over a week ago that he had “no choice” but to keep trying to get back on the mound this season — and that prolonging his major league career beyond 2022 hinged on “[proving] to people that I’m not broke.”
It has been a complicated comeback for the lefty, who hasn’t pitched for the Cubs since June 10 — and estimates he hasn’t pitched pain-free in five years — but Miley will get the ball Tuesday for the series opener against the Reds, his former team, at Wrigley Field. It will be just the fifth start of the year for the 35-year-old, whom the Cubs claimed off waivers last November, picking up his $10 million option for 2022.
“A lot of ups and downs, a lot of throwing and hoping things feel better,” Miley said Sunday before the Cubs took on the Cardinals. “Just a longer road than we hoped. Hopefully, we’re here now and can finish out the year strong.”
Miley missed the first month of the season with inflammation in his elbow. After his May 22 start, he went on the 15-day injured list with a shoulder strain. On June 10 at Yankee Stadium, in his first start off the injured list, he was pulled after three shutout innings due to soreness in the shoulder. There have been several rehab starts since then — most recently at Single-A South Bend on Wednesday, when he threw 55 pitches — but recovering from those starts has been difficult.
“A lot of setbacks,” manager David Ross said.
The Cubs went in expecting Miley — 98-92 with a 4.15 ERA for his career — to be a key contributor. Instead, he has only 19 innings under his belt. He was unaware of a pitch limit for Tuesday but expected the Cubs will be cautious with his comeback.
“I miss being out there,” he said. “I miss that one day I get to compete.”