2023 is in the past.
The Cardinals have added three veteran starting pitchers to their rotation to make up for the lack of innings out of their starters in 2023. The rotation was the biggest problem for the Cardinals last year.
However, instead of upgrading the rotation, the Cardinals seemingly threw new catcher Willson Contreras under the bus by pulling him out of the starting catcher's role and limiting him to designated hitter duties.
After being suspected of casting blame towards Contreras, Jack Flaherty, who recently signed with the Tigers, attempted to clarify what he meant by saying that his frustrations were more about his own struggles than those of Contreras.
Miles Mikolas, who was one of the Cardinals' better starters in 2022, took a step back in 2023, going 9-13 and posting a 4.78 ERA. He also spoke on the matter in an interview with Jim Hayes on Monday, praising Contreras for his grace and professionalism.
"He took a lot of heat off of us as a staff that wasn't performing well," said Mikolas. "That takes a big guy to do that and say 'Hey, I'm going to take some of this heat for our pitching staff (not) doing well' when I'm usually the first guy to say 'I'm in control of my game. If I pitch poorly that's on me.'"
Mikolas doubles down on Flaherty's comments
Based on Mikolas' comments, it seems very clear that the Cardinals, and potentially even Flaherty, were attempting to make a scapegoat out of Contreras.
And with Mikolas praising Contreras for taking the heat, it also seems clear that the right-hander didn't agree with how Contreras was treated.
While we don't know for sure, Flaherty's recent comments could very well have been an attempt to hide from the notion that he blamed Contreras for what went wrong. I don't want to necessarily jump to conclusions here, but it seems obvious to me that not only did Flaherty blame Contreras, but that Mikolas is also confirming this to be true.
At the very least, Mikolas doesn't seem to believe it was Contreras' fault. Instead, he took ownership for his personal struggles and being unable to follow up his strong 2022 with more success in 2023.
What really stands out about the whole situation is how it was handled by Contreras himself. Clearly, he was upset with what was going on. But instead of complaining, he took the high road and put himself at the front of it all.
It's definitely good to see Mikolas giving Contreras the credit he deserves. While every player on the roster shares some of the blame for what went wrong, it's not fair to put it all on Contreras, and Mikolas obviously understands this.