Even with Jordan Hicks going on the injured list, the St. Louis Cardinals continue to trend the right way. Harrison Bader has returned to the outfield. Kwang Hyun Kim missed minimal time with a back injury. It has led to a 9-2 stretch in their last 11 games — and they may soon get another important piece back.
Miles Mikolas, who suffered a shoulder injury in spring training, is starting Wednesday for Triple-A Memphis against the Tampa Bay Rays’ affiliate.
It’s another step in the right direction for Mikolas, whose return would mark the Cardinals getting the fifth and final member of their rotation back. It is likely that the team will be cautious bringing Mikolas back to the major-league roster, however, considering that ramping him up too quickly this spring is what led to his shoulder issue.
But when he does return, Mikolas will help provide another dependable option out of the rotation. He may not be the same pitcher who won 18 games in 2018, but the Cardinals can realistically expect an ERA that hovers around 3.00-4.00. He will have to cut down on the home runs allowed, as he gave up 27 homers in his last full season in 2019.
Getting that kind of production out Mikolas, 32, should further help a bullpen that has been tested to begin the season. With Hicks out long-term, the starting pitchers – and the rest of the bullpen – have added pressure to effectively eat innings. Alex Reyes appears up for the test, as he is one of two pitchers who have thrown at least 14 innings to not allow a run this season.
The rest of the bullpen will need to step up, but Mikolas returning would take some pressure off the unit. His first rehab start is the strongest sign yet that his return is imminent, barring another setback.