This season didn’t go like most seasons. The Cardinals were terrible. I stopped writing here very much, with nothing after the blog anniversary. However, some things must go on and that includes the Exit Interview series! Now in its 12th year, it’s our look back at each player that made an appearance in a game for the St. Louis Cardinals. We’re approaching it a little different this season, a little more literary and a little less statistical, but hopefully you enjoy it just the same. As always, I am grateful that cardinalsgifs has agreed to use his talent for the header image!
Player: Miles Mikolas
Stats: 9-13, 35 G, 201.1 IP, 226 H, 26 HR, 39 BB, 137 K, 4.78 ERA, 4.27 FIP, 1.316 WHIP, 1.9 bWAR
Statcast: 9.8% barrel, 38.9% sweet spot, 115.5 max exit velocity, .330 wOBA, .353 xwOBA, 15.9% K, 4.5% BB
If nothing else, Mikolas has a sense of timing. He had a great first year in St. Louis when he arrived in 2018, enough so that the Cards offered him a four year deal even though there was still a year left on his contract. Then in 2022 he had another really solid year, going into a season where the Cardinals had every pitcher in their rotation save Steven Matz up for free agency. Not wanting to go into a season with that sort of uncertainty (and the spring extension is almost a tradition by this point), the Cards gave him a three year deal, with year one replacing the last year of the old deal and, as such, binding him to the club until 2025.
Did you know that Mikolas is the third highest Cardinal salary behind Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt? You’d expect a little more consistency and quality work for that price, wouldn’t you? Yet here are the ERA+ numbers in his tenure with the Cardinals: 137, 101, 93, 118, 91. You can guess which years the contracts came after. While Mikolas won’t walk people–he’s been in the top 5% of walk rate three times in his five (since he missed 2020) seasons with the Cards and one other season he finished in the top 10%–the hits and lack of strikeouts tend to pile up and things, well, they get ugly.
He can get on a run, as seen late in the year when he put up a 3.28 ERA over seven starts (though one of those was short-lived after he was tossed for plunking Ian Happ, something that saw him be suspended shortly after) and he walked just two batters over that span. When it gets ugly, it’s ugly, as noted by the fact that he led the league in hits, gave up a home run almost every eight innings, and finished April with a 5.97 ERA, results that did not help the Cardinals get off on the right foot at all.
Mikolas, who is the longest-serving Cardinal now that the icons are gone, has been vocal about wanting to fill the leadership void left behind by Adam Wainwright. He’s a goofy guy that brings some personality to the clubhouse. However, there’s a strong wish the club had looked to Jordan Montgomery for an extension last spring if they really had to give one out.
What’s in store for 2024: If the Cardinals do the offseason right, Mikolas won’t be starting until the last game of the opening series, because that Dodgers set goes four games. If they do it really wrong, Mikolas will be your Opening Day starter. No matter how the winter goes, though, Mikolas will be a veteran presence in the rotation and hopefully can take a step up from what he produced last year, though since he’ll be 35 1/2 when Opening Day comes around, that might be more hoping than solid expectation.