Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas will miss the start of the regular season after receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection, as manager Mike Shildt told reporters including the Belleville News-Democrat’s Jeff Jones on Tuesday morning:
Shildt said this morning he was “relieved” that Mikolas’s exam didn’t show any degradation from his baseline and that there was no surgery needed. Didn’t want to put a timeline on his expected recovery but he’ll be starting from scratch in ~a month.— Jeff Jones (@jmjones) February 18, 2020
Mikolas had been scratched from a bullpen session over the weekend while dealing with a flexor tendon issue. That injury is commonly a precursor to Tommy John surgery, and while the 31-year-old starter is not out of the woods following the injection, the Cardinals seem to feel pretty good about his ability to avoid surgery.
Mikolas was an All-Star and finished sixth in NL Cy Young voting after returning from Japan and signing with the Cardinals prior to the 2018 season. Over 32 starts, he dominated to the tune of a 2.83 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. But as MLB introduced the (likely) juiced ball in 2019, Mikolas’ command-oriented, pitch-to-contact style was not as effective, and he posted a more pedestrian 4.16 ERA (still good for an above-average 103 ERA+), a 1.22 WHIP, 144 strikeouts, and 32 walks over 184 innings.
With Mikolas out at the beginning of the season, Carlos Martínez and offseason addition Kwang-hyun Kim appear to be the favorites for St. Louis’ fourth and fifth starter spots. Alex Reyes, Génesis Cabrera, John Gant, Austin Gomber, and Daniel Ponce de Leon are among those who could also compete for rotation openings with Michael Wacha having departed in free agency and Mikolas down.