Coming into 2018, Miles Mikolas was not the free agent the Cardinals were hoping for…
But he has delivered.
In fact, I’d say besides Martínez, he has been the most successful starter thus far. And why is that? He is efficient.
One of my biggest pet peeves is walking batters unintentionally. Some of the worst games for the Cardinals thus far have come when the pitchers have walked a ridiculous number of batters. For example…
3/29 @ NY Mets
Carlos Martínez – 4.1 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 6 BB
Team total – 9 BB
4/09 w MIL Brewers
Greg Holland – 0.1 IP, 0 H, 1 ER, 4 BB
Team total – 5 BB
4/24 w NY Mets
Luke Weaver – 4.2 IP, 2 H, 4 ER, 6 BB
Team total – 8 BB
Walks are a legitimate issue with this ballclub, which brings me to my point… Be like Mikolas.
Between those outings these pitchers combined for…
9.1 IP AND 16 BB
Mikolas this season
26.0 IP AND 2 BB
Mikolas throws strikes… So much so that he currently leads the MLB in strike percentage with 70.5 %.
Another good note… He is 2nd in MLB in walks per 9 at a ridiculous 0.69 BB/9.
He also currently ranks 5th in MLB in P/IP averaging 13.81 pitches per inning.
Being able to throw strikes gives Mikolas the ability to pitch farther into games by limiting his pitch count. Personally I was rather miffed that Mikolas wasn’t granted the 8th inning in his previous two starts despite reaching only 83 and 85 pitches through 7 innings of work.
He isn’t known for his ability to strike out opposing batters, but his K/9 is currently the highest of his career at 6.9 K/9.
So his walk rate is at a career low and his strikeout rate is a career high. All the while, he throws strikes at the best rate in baseball and gets out of innings faster than almost everyone in the Majors…
The pitching staff needs to take notice.
Now, one area of concern is that while Mikolas does throw strikes, he has been succeptable to the long ball. It seems that when he does miss his spot, he tends to miss in the zone, giving batters something to hit. So far this season he has given up 4 home runs, but with his ability to keep runners off the basepaths, he shouldn’t have too much to worry about.
One thing that isn’t brought up enough is that his fastball velocity is pretty solid. He usually sits between 93-95, but I’ve seen him hit 97-98 in some moments. His curveball is especially filthy with it’s 12-6 type movement. His 15-20 MPH difference in velocity keeps batters on their toes. He can throw all of his pitches for strikes, so if the batter isn’t ready for a certain pitch, weak contact results in outs.
I’ve been a fan of Mikolas early on, writing about him being a dark horse and being a candidate for 15+ wins. So far I think he is exceeding expectations. He is 3-0 with a 3.46 ERA over four starts. I don’t expect him to be perfect… But if he keeps it up, $15M over 2 years is a steal.
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