Every year since 2012, we’ve spent some time after the season looking back at those that wore the Birds on the Bat. Whether it’s a bit player that got into just a couple of games or someone that played almost every day, we’ll look at their stats, their positives, their negatives, and grade them based on what we would have expected from them. The stat line is from their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers may include time with other teams, if applicable. Think of this as like the players packing up their locker and then seeing Mike Shildt before they head off for the winter. Once again, our great header work comes to us from cardinalsgifs, who continues to be a master.
Player: Miles Mikolas
Season stats: 18-4, 2.83 ERA, 32 G, 200.2 IP, 186 H, 16 HR, 29 BB, 146 K, 3.28 FIP, 1.071 WHIP, 6.0 K/9, 4.1 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Hero 10, Goat 1
Overall grade: A
Positives: Proved that the Cardinals have a pretty good idea how to value players from the Japanese leagues, following right on the success of Seunghwan Oh….lost fewer games in 32 starts than he did in 10 starts the last time he was a major league player….came in sixth in the Cy Young voting….was named to the All-Star team but had to forgo the game as his twins decided to arrive early….only had one start (in Colorado) where he allowed more than four runs and one of those runs was unearned….righties slashed .195/.240/.264 against him….had a 2.17 ERA at home and held hitters to a .581 OPS at Busch….was consistent throughout the year, with less than 10 points separating his first and second half ERAs….went 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA in May….went 5-0 with a 2.14 ERA in September….had a 1.94 ERA in wins and a 2.70 ERA in losses….had a 2.09 ERA when receiving two or less runs of support….the only four games he lost were in that category….12 of his 16 home runs allowed came when he had six or more runs of support…batters had a .588 OPS if they took the first pitch….batters hit .236 leading off an inning….limited hitters to a .585 OPS when two were out in an inning….allowed just one home run with runners in scoring position….had a 1.38 ERA against the Cubs in four games, winning three of them….was 3-0 against the Brewers and hit a home run in his first start against them.
Negatives: Had two rough spring training starts right out of the gate….lefties hit .283 with 12 home runs against him….had a 3.53 ERA on the road, though he was 10-0 there….batters hit .261 with a .670 OPS in the second half….had a 3.67 ERA in July, his highest month, though he went 3-0 anyway….leadoff batters hit .263 against him….allowed a .394/.396/.556 line when batters hit the first pitch….batters hit .262 when ahead in the count….batters hit .269 with two outs and runners in scoring position….hitters had a .717 OPS in high leverage situations….had a 5.06 ERA in the fourth inning….had a 3.58 ERA with six days’ rest….had a 3.01 ERA at night.
Overview: Seriously, do you remember how people just melted down when Mikolas had that terrible start to his tenure down in Jupiter? Lots of insults flying at John Mozeliak being cheap and the like. Surprisingly enough, early spring training results aren’t exactly indicative of future performance. When we were at Blogger Day at the ballpark this year, Bill DeWitt III talked about how Mozeliak and the scouting staff had been like people get when they find a sleeper at a fantasy baseball draft (my analogy, not his). I don’t even want to imagine where this team would have been without Mikolas. Every other starter was hurt or ineffective in spurts this season (save Jack Flaherty, who had a stint in the minors) but Mikolas continued to take the ball every time out and give the Cardinals a huge chance to win. All that and an excellent mustache. What was there not to like?
Outlook: Mikolas may get honored for this season by getting the Opening Day start next year and while a sub-3 ERA might not be in the cards for 2019, there’s no reason to think he can’t be a solid rotation piece. There may be some talk of extension this offseason, but I have my doubts that will happen as Mikolas made sure that he left his free agency option open when signing his contract. If he wants to bet on another big season, he could get a sizable contract after the ’19 season. No matter how long he is signed for, there’s got to be a ton of optimism around Mikolas going forward.