The St. Louis Cardinals need all the rotation help they can get and Miles Mikolas is slowly making progress in his recovery.
The St. Louis Cardinals have already started to rework their rotation, shifting right-hander John Gant to the bullpen while considering replacing him with left-hander Wade LeBlanc. There are other possibilities, such as also removing Carlos Martinez, with the team saying that their replacements – at least for now — will all come internally.
One of them could be right-hander Miles Mikolas, who told reporters (including Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) that he expects to start throwing bullpens by the All-Star break and if all goes well, would begin a rehab assignment in late July into August, with the plan being to repeat some pitch-count goals as he climbs through the minors.
That would put Mikolas on track to return by late August or early September, which would not provide immediate relief to the rotation. It would still mean that president of baseball operations John Mozeliak should pursue upgrades via trade in July to restock a rotation that has been among baseball’s worst in recent weeks. But getting Mikolas back at any point this season seems like a nice surprise for the Cardinals, considering his extensive injury history and recent setback upon returning from a shoulder injury.
The Cardinals, however, should not count on Mikolas to provide meaningful innings. Perhaps he can find a role in the bullpen, where he can throw in one or two inning stints, and preserve his arm for the postseason and potentially for future seasons. But he has barely pitched since winning 18 games in 2018 and as his most recent recovery underscored, setbacks are a real part of the rehab process.
In the meantime, the Cardinals will get ace Jack Flaherty back well before Mikolas — at least that’s what the team hopes. But while the club expects Mikolas to eventually return, the addition of both players should not stop the team from pursuing more depth, with the industry expectation being that president of baseball operations John Mozeliak will search high and low for depth to save a rotation that has been decimated by injuries.