What each Cardinal pitcher has to prove during the final stretch

Every Cardinal still has something to play for, even though the team is on the brink of elimination. Today, we'll break down what each member of the pitching staff must prove over the final weeks of the season!
Thompson faces off against the Cincinnati Reds
Thompson faces off against the Cincinnati Reds / Aaron Doster/GettyImages
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Miles Mikolas

Miles Mikolas is one of two names currently locked into the Cardinals' 2024 rotation. He's the more dependable of the two, as he almost never misses time with injury. He's been his usual durable self in 2023, though his performance has taken a step back. After reaching the All-Star Game in 2022, many expected Mikolas to have a similar season, but his ERA is up nearly a run and a half. This comes on the heels of an extension reached between Mikolas and the Cardinals in the first weeks of the season. Now, many are arguing that the Cardinals will regret handing Mikolas $40MM, split between the 2024 and 2025 seasons.

For better or for worse, he's now part of this rotation moving forward. He's likely to open as the third pitcher in this rotation, and Mikolas, with a return to form, has the makings of an excellent mid-rotation arm. Unfortunately, he has relatively few chances to begin that turnaround in 2023. He endured a tough outing on September 16 against the Phillies, allowing five earned runs. In ten starts since the All-Star Game, Mikolas has recorded an ERA north of 6.00. What seemed like a strong season has quickly soured.

Mikolas needs to string together several quality starts between now and the end of the season, even if he only has a few more opportunities. Doing so would provide confidence for both fans and executives before the off-season begins. It would also help to justify the extension he received earlier this season.