The 6 biggest surprises from the St. Louis Cardinals’ first month
2. Miles Mikolas’ ace-level pitching
Miles Mikolas has pitched brilliantly in 2022 so far. With multi-month absence of Jack Flaherty, I was concerned about whether someone could step up and be an anchor. To this point, Mikolas has performed admirably. He has a minuscule 1.53 ERA, and his walks per nine innings are at 1.8, so he is showing his usual impeccable control.
I can’t find any Baseball Savant statistics showing a big change in what he’s doing, but hitters do appear to be getting under the ball more often than before against him. It will be interesting to see if whatever Mikolas is doing continues to work.
3. The outfield’s offensive struggles
The starting outfielders came into this season looking poised to take another step forward, but so far, it hasn’t gone the way they had hoped. Carlson, Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader haven’t exactly knocked the cover off the ball to this point; in fact, Carlson’s exit velocity ranks in the second percentile of major leaguers, and he has only barreled two balls this year. Harrison Bader isn’t reaching his career highs of last year with the bat so far, but he is making up for it in the stolen-base category.
Tyler O’Neill was the player many fans were most excited about seeing an encore from, and while the stats last year pointed to some likely regression, the pendulum may have swung too far in the other direction. O’Neill is hitting just .206, but his average exit velocity is still respectable. He does, however, need to adjust to seeing the breaking pitch more as pitchers have learned to throw him fewer fastballs.
Lars Nootbaar has been demoted, and Corey Dickerson isn’t giving the team much to cheer about either. The outfield’s paltry offensive performance in 2020 looked to be solved in 2021, but the Cardinals seem to be falling back toward that level of performance again.