It is March 10, and the St. Louis Cardinals are already in trouble.
The St. Louis Cardinals have already been dealt a blow to their rotation.
Just hours after expressing optimism that Miles Mikolas would soon return from injury, the Cardinals have shut down the right-handed pitcher. He will not be ready for Opening Day, manager Mike Shildt told Zachary Silver of MLB.com, and will instead receive imaging on his right shoulder to pinpoint the cause of the soreness that has kept him out all of spring training.
It is a huge loss for the Cardinals, and it could be worse for the team if Mikolas misses an extended period of time. Both sides were optimistic entering spring training that he would be ready to pitch immediately, but experienced soreness after a live batting practice on Feb. 25. He was set to throw an “aggressive” bullpen on Wednesday but that, of course, is no longer happening.
How the Cardinals replace Mikolas in the rotation, at least for the time being, remains a complete mystery. But the team has already handicapped itself by publicly declaring Alex Reyes a reliever, saying that he will throw 100+ innings out of the bullpen. But a rotation that entered spring training with a question mark at the No. 5 spot in the rotation now is facing another and this one is a doozy.
The Cardinals remain confident that they can withstand the loss of Mikolas. But with the team knowing the question marks in the rotation, and realizing the pressure that will be put on pitchers with the season going from 60 to 162 games, it puts even more pressure on president of baseball operations John Mozeliak and the front office for not addressing the unit at all in free agency besides retaining Adam Wainwright.
Perhaps the Cardinals are right. Maybe they can make things worse without Mikolas. But they took a risk not signing any outside free agents and it could come back to haunt them.