Miles Mikolas made his St. Louis Cardinals debut yesterday against the reigning world champion Houston Astros.
After seeing fellow starters Jack Flaherty and Carlos Martinez pitch on Friday and Saturday respectively, all eyes turned to Miles Mikolas on Sunday, the newest member of the St. Louis Cardinals rotation in 2018. Mikolas signed a two-year/$15.5 million deal this off-season and immediately slots in as the fifth man in the Cards’ rotation.
Mikolas took the ball on Sunday and pitched 1.2 innings, gave up six earned runs on seven hits, walked one batter and struck out two batters. The Cardinals ended up losing the game 7-3. Tommy Pham and Yadier Molina hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning.
Obviously this wasn’t the ideal outcome Mikolas. However, that didn’t stop some St. Louis fans from dragging him through the mud. A lot of people on Twitter went right after Mikolas and others went right after John Mozeliak. Many people just laughed at the result’s of Mikolas’ outing and other criticized Mozeliak for not putting more effort into getting a guy like Jake Arrieta into the rotation or even bringing back Lance Lynn.
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Maybe, in some ways, they do have a point on one thing. It’s something I alluded to in my “What to watch for in Spring Training part one” piece. The front office alone will have to answer the question on why they chose not to pursue another starter like the two players mentioned above.
It won’t matter what reason they give you, but with every poor outing Mikolas ends up with, the more voices you’ll hear come Opening Day or even before that.
But, for all the naysayers already lining the gates at Busch to remove Mikolas from the rotation, realize he isn’t going anywhere after one start.
I understand it’s not impressive, but we are talking about one start in Spring Training. Not to mention this start came against the reigning champion Houston Astros. If you actually watched the game, instead of going on just the numbers, Mikolas did some really great things.
He moved the ball in and out of the zone with his fastball and off-speed pitches. Sure, he left a ball up on Kyle Tucker‘s home run in the first inning. But prior to that at bat, Mikolas struck out World Series MVP George Springer looking with a nice cutter/slider over the outside part of the plate. Only two of the six hits went for extra bases. The other hits were singles, none very sharply hit either. However, much like the home run, the singles came off of elevated pitches in the zone.
Mikolas had this to say after his outing yesterday:
Think what you want, but it’s clear Mikolas has the right attitude about this. He knows there is plenty of baseball left in Spring Training to fine tune his pitches and command heading into Opening Day. However, what separates good pitchers from average pitcher or even bad pitchers is execution.
Mikolas must demonstrate the ability to overcome his first outing and be more efficient in his next couple of outings. I’m not saying he needs to be perfect through two innings, but I think there needs to be a bit more focus on finishing off innings quickly when you get two outs quickly. Taking those next steps and showing he can be a better pitcher will help ease the worries of some fans.
Don’t give up on Mikolas after one start. Give him an opportunity to pitch and let’s see what he can do. If the Cardinals determine something else is needed, then something will happen.