Can Miles Mikolas carry his sharp Spring Training into a strong 2024 campaign?

Spring Training results should always be taken with a grain of salt, but so far, Miles Mikolas has looked really good in camp.

Feb 19, 2024; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Miles Mikolas (39) delivers a
Feb 19, 2024; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Miles Mikolas (39) delivers a / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday I posted a story listing six Cardinals who have stolen the headlines during Spring Training so far with their positive performances. There was one player I debated including on that list, but decided to leave off because I needed to see more - Miles Mikolas.

Well, Mikolas that afternoon spun four innings of one-run ball against the Washington Nationals, and he now sits with a 1.80 ERA across his three starts (ten innings). As I said in my story, I don't take a ton of stock in Spring Training stats, but I do think it's fair to say Mikolas has looked sharper this Spring and may be poised to rebound after a rough 2023 campaign.

Coming into 2024, I was super low on Mikolas, especially compared to the other rotation options the Cardinals have. Mikolas was the clear number five to me talent-wise, as his stuff just wasn't the same anymore and his main value came from eating innings.

While I'm definitely not going to go out there and say he can repeat his All-Star performance from 2022, I do wonder if the Mikolas we are seeing right now could be a major improvement from what we got in 2023. Last year, Mikolas gave up an MLB-high 226 hits in his 201.1 innings of work, which led to a lousy 4.78 ERA. Now, not all ERAs are created equal, as part of the reason it was high was that Mikolas was a guy the Cardinals could ask to give them 6+ innings consistently, even if that meant wearing a few extra earned runs in the process.

I was expecting more of the same in 2024, with potentially some slight improvement, but I do wonder if maybe we see a Mikolas that has closer to a low 4.00 ERA, or perhaps best case scenario, in the high 3.00 ERA range.

Yes, the Cardinals would still have a glaring hole in their rotation when it comes to a second front-line starter, but Mikolas pitching like this during the regular season would go a long way toward helping them jump back into the playoff race.

As I'll continue to say with all Spring Training performances, we'll see how things go once the games begin to matter. It's great to look sharp in exhibition games, but that won't matter at all if Mikolas is struggling in April, May, and beyond. For now though, I'm pleasantly surprised by what we are seeing out of Mikolas this spring.