Left-hander Wade Miley gave up three hits in his last start and was hit twice, which explains the 12 total pitches and the inability to complete one inning.
Miley is taking his regular turn tonight in D.C. after the White Sox used him for target practice. His bruised left wrist has healed. So has his pride after the second line drive knocked him on his butt.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Miley took his normal workday and stayed in his routine despite the abbreviated start. There was some thought given to putting him in the bullpen last night in case a need arose, but it didn’t happen.
“He had his workday yesterday and things went well,” Showalter said. “We had talked about if we had a need last night (in relief) because we were short there, about Wade pitching, but he needed that workday to find out if he could make his start. Once he took his workday, we weren’t going to pitch him (yesterday), but we could have.
“You’re always looking for a contingency plan if something happens, with a line drive off somebody in the first inning. Trying to get to that off-day (Monday). It’s going to be hard, especially with the type of team we’re playing. It’s going to take some real quality starts to stay on our feet in the bullpen.”
Miley has posted a 2.27 ERA in six starts and is averaging 5.4 walks and 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings. Right-handers are batting .218 and left-handers are batting .167.
The Nationals haven’t done much with Miley at home. He’s 2-1 with a 1.46 ERA in four starts. However, the current group is batting .393 (35-for-89) against him.
Anthony Rendon is 7-for-11 with two doubles, Ryan Zimmerman is 5-for-10 with three doubles and a triple, Chris Heisey is 5-for-11 with a home run, Bryce Harper is 4-for-7 with a double and Daniel Murphy is 5-for-15 with a double.
Stephen Strasburg is the latest challenge for Orioles hitters in this home-and-home series. He’s registered a 2.66 ERA and 1.082 WHIP and allowed only two home runs in 40 2/3 innings over his six starts. He came within an out of six straight quality starts, shutting out the Phillies over 5 2/3 innings in his most recent outing.
Strasburg is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two career starts against the Orioles, with one walk and 17 strikeouts in 12 innings. The current group is 5-for-29 (.172) against him.
The Orioles won’t have closer Zach Britton for an extended period, though he sounded confident yesterday that he’d return well before the All-Star break.
Britton flew down to Sarasota and begins his throwing progression in about 10 days. Minor league medical coordinator Dave Walker will supervise the rehab.
“We came down here in warmer weather, which could help speed up the recovery, getting out of the colder weather,” Britton said.
“Dave Walker does a great job with rehabs, and kind of having that whole facility to myself. I feel like you get in the way sometimes. And at the same time, I think Buck had mentioned to me coming down to Sarasota so maybe I don’t push myself to come back too soon, just based on being with the team and wanting to be there to help. Sort of allows you to get away from it a little bit and focus on getting healthy.”
But how long is it going to take? Dr. Neal ElAttrache never put a firm number on it.
“He had just thrown out, ‘Forty-five days, I’d be surprised if you weren’t in a big league game,’ ” Britton said, “but there was never any like, ‘Hey, this is what it’s going to take.’ Because the injury is kind of unique, but not in a terrible way because it’s a muscle, so it’s going to heal.
“It’s unique in that we’re trying to figure out how it happened. With the hand specialist, it’s not like you grip a baseball that hard to where you’re going to hurt yourself from gripping a baseball. I think we’re just trying to wrap our heads around why it happened, what I was doing when I did it. But recovery, it’s a muscle, so it’s going to heal. Just give it time.”
Can the Orioles continue to carry a six-man bullpen in Britton’s extended absence? There’s the obvious ripple effect, with Brad Brach and Darren O’Day pushed into a shared closer’s role and greater setup responsibilities for Mychal Givens and Donnie Hart.
Maybe the door opens a little sooner for Edwin Jackson, but the Orioles also are keeping an eye on Jimmy Yacabonis, who impressed in spring training and hasn’t allowed a run in 15 2/3 innings with Triple-A Norfolk. Jackson and Yacabonis aren’t on the 40-man roster, but the Orioles could remove a pitcher or transfer Rule 5 outfielder Anthony Santander to the 60-day disabled list now that he’s been shut down from throwing for six weeks.
The Orioles may option Logan Verrett after he worked three innings last night. Jayson Aquino could be recalled - that’s my prediction - and give the Orioles a second left-hander in the bullpen. Alec Asher is available in long relief tonight behind Miley.