St. Louis Cardinals: Possible crunch time for Miles Mikolas

JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 20: Miles Mikolas
JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 20: Miles Mikolas /

The St. Louis Cardinals have lots of unanswered questions with the regular season quickly approaching, but one question was one they were really hoping wouldn’t be an issue.

This afternoon the St. Louis Cardinals face off against the Houston Astros. Starting for the Cardinals will be Miles Mikolas, the former Major Leaguer who went to Japan for a fresh start. The Cardinals’ front office liked what they saw enough to offer him a two year deal with the expectation that he would be the Cardinals’ fifth starter this year.

To this point his performance on the field has not been up to what fans or the front office had to have been hoping for. Given, it is just Spring Training and these games do not matter one bit in the long run. The problem is the St. Louis Cardinals have question marks in other spots thanks to injuries, among other issues and Mikolas is not one they were expecting.

Of course the Cardinals do have options. Alex Reyes is expected back in May; the team could look to roll him out as a starter based on need but more than likely they will ease him in to limit innings. Another option is Jack Flaherty, currently tabbed to start the year in Memphis, Flaherty has shown flashes of a potentially dominant pitcher, but he clearly has things to work on.

The biggest wrench in the situation is the current free agent market. This offseason was the most confusing in recent years with a fair amount of quality players still waiting on a deal with the season quickly approaching. Available still to sign include names such as Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and recent Cardinal Lance Lynn. There are options, but are they realistic for this team?

Yesterday, Mike Moustakas signed a one year deal to return to the Kansas City Royals, the numbers in the deal were, in a word, surprising. If this is the market for the guys still available then the front office needs to be considering a one year deal for one of these guys. That is if they believe Mikolas is not the answer for the rotation.

Of course, fan sentiment is to sign a new shiny toy for the team. This idea is understandable, the St. Louis Cardinals rivals made pretty impressive improvements to their team. Outside of Marcell Ozuna, it’s hard to call this team’s offseason impressive.

So today when Mikolas takes the mound there will be a lot of scrutiny thrown his way. What type of outing would take the heat off him and the front office from fans? If he struggles again do the St. Louis Cardinals start making calls? These are questions that will have to be answered. Given they tend to stick to the quiet but optimistic approach it is hard to believe Girsch or Mo hint at anything.

All eyes will be on Mikolas come five o’ clock tonight. Can the work that Maddux has had Mikolas do since his last outing help him fix his issues to date? Facing off against the reigning World Champions is probably not what a guy who has been struggling would like to be doing. Unfortunately, this is the option afforded to him.

Next: Is Mikolas in a 6-man rotation?

Only time will tell if Mikolas can overcome his issues and cement himself in the rotation going forward.