St. Louis Cardinals: A healthy Miles Mikolas is on the horizon

Miles Mikolas #39 of the St. Louis Cardinals poses for a photo on Photo Day at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on February 19, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Miles Mikolas #39 of the St. Louis Cardinals poses for a photo on Photo Day at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on February 19, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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One small benefit to a delay in the 2020 season is that the St. Louis Cardinals will have a healthy Miles Mikolas back. How big is his return?

Years ago, in spring training before the 2020 season, the St. Louis Cardinals were working on how to replace the spot in their starting rotation caused by the loss of Miles Mikolas to injury. Mikolas’ injury started as elbow soreness, but within the first two weeks of spring training, that’s never a good sign.

As expected, Mikolas’ best option was just to rest the elbow and get a PRP shot. Because of this, Mikolas wouldn’t be touching a ball for 3-4 weeks. In his absence, Kwang-Hyun Kim and the other young arms in the Cardinals’ bullpen were going to duke it out for the final spot in the rotation for the beginning of the year.

Of course, the season didn’t start as expected and in this case, the Cardinals will benefit from a delay. Miles Mikolas will apparently be ready if the season starts in June or later.

According to a report this week from Derrick Goold, Mikolas has already thrown multiple light bullpens and is “encouraged” by the progress.

Getting back Mikolas would be huge for the rotation that all of a sudden looked vulnerable. In Mikolas’ spot, the Cardinals would’ve likely gone with Kim who could’ve done well, but is entirely an unknown. With Mikolas in the rotation though, Kim can return to the bullpen.

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The left side of the bullpen has a lot of options with Mikolas in the rotation. Kim, Andrew Miller, Tyler Webb, Austin Gomber, and Genesis Cabrera all look like they will spend time with the big club in 2020 and all of them have their place with the team.

Most plans for 2020 include probable doubleheaders at least once a week, and having Mikolas in to eat some innings is huge. Mikolas had a worse 2019 than he did 2018, but he threw a combined 384.2 innings. Mikolas may be more of a four or a five in the rotation rather than the second or third starter he looked like in 2018, but innings eaters are very valuable.

Brett Cecil may also be able to contribute, but it’s past the point of counting on him.

Add to this that Jordan Hicks will likely be ready near the time the regular season starts up and you are left with another season where the Cards’ have one of the NL’s best pitching staff.

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The Cardinals may come to regret the four-year extension they gave to Mikolas before 2019, but for now, he’s a very important part of 2020 and all we can do is hope he doesn’t have setbacks as he works to rehab his throwing arm.