How the imminent return of Miles Mikolas impacts the Cardinals

Miles Mikolas #39 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches during the game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 12, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. The Cardinals defeated the Rockies 10-3. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Miles Mikolas #39 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches during the game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 12, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. The Cardinals defeated the Rockies 10-3. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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The long awaited return of Miles Mikolas is finally nearing, as manager Mike Shildt told reporters (including Katie Woo of The Athletic) that the right-hander may return as soon as this weekend.

The Cardinals, of course, have not had Mikolas at all this season. He has not pitched in the majors since 2019 and has only made 32 starts since his 18-win season in 2018. He has battled a multitude of injuries and undergone surgeries, most recently suffering a setback with his shoulder during spring training that has kept him out for the start of the regular season.

And the return of Mikolas, along with the return of Carlos Martinez, should change the outlook of the Cardinals’ rotation.

Mikolas, 32, has proven to be an effective starting pitcher since joining the Cardinals. He has not had an ERA above 4.16 since joining the organization and held an ERA of 2.83 in 32 starts in 2018. The team is optimistic that he can remain an effective major-league starter, penciling in toward the bottom of the rotation behind Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright, Kwang Hyun Kim and perhaps Martinez.

But the Cardinals should be careful not to put too much on his plate too early with his recent string of serious shoulder and forearm injuries. They have strong bullpen depth, which would allow them to ease Mikolas back into action, saving him for October and playoff baseball when Shildt will need him the most. And it would allow John Gant and Johan Oviedo, among others, to shift back to a relief role and provide even more length and depth for the bullpen.

But getting Mikolas back now gives the Cardinals another veteran option in the rotation. And in a season in which depth has never been more important, his presence could make all the difference for the team.

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After all, he’s done it before. Why not again?