Just before the 2018 season began, I made a bold prediction claiming that Michael Wacha would recieve Cy Young votes. Now we sit in the middle of June, and it doesn’t look so crazy after all.
But now I’m going bolder.
I also wrote up a piece claiming that Miles Mikolas would get to 15 wins on the season. This piece like the previously mentioned, didn’t receive much support, but looks good in hindsight. Mikolas currently sits at 7-1 on the season but easily could have 2-3 wins under his belt given strong performances only for the bullpen to squander his outings late.
I’m going to stick with Mikolas here for this prediction as you can tell from the title. I believe Mikolas will win the NL Cy Young.
Yes I know, Max Scherzer is still alive and well. And right now, that’s the biggest hurdle for Mikolas to overcome and I’ll get to that.
The next one is the resurgence of Michael Wacha. Wacha having a strong year could potentially split votes if both pitchers continue on their torrid pace. Just look back at 2009 season where Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter were having monster seasons. According to ESPN Cy Young Predictor in 2009, Adam Wainwright held the highest score in the NL with 189.1, and Carpenter was 2nd with a 178.0. Instead of either one of them winning, the Cy Young award winner was actually Tim Lincecum, who according to the Cy Young Predictor, was 4th in the NL with a 162.9. The Cy Young Predictor is usually fairly accurate, and this was one of the only seasons since it’s conception where both Cy Young winners weren’t ranked #1. With Carpenter and Wainwright at the top, it seems many people decided to vote for just one of them instead of both, leaving Lincecum the chance to swoop in for the victory. If Wacha keeps it up along with Mikolas, it could be a similar situation.
We wanna hear from you guys. With both Wacha and Mikolas having strong first halves, they both have cases for an All-Star appearance. Who would you choose? Aaron & Brad – Mikolas @11InningStretch @ballparkbeef @IvesBaseballSTL @birdsonabatshow @C70 @ArchCityMedia #STLCards
Now, going back to Scherzer… He is one of if not the best pitchers in all of baseball. Currently on the Cy Young Predictor, Scherzer sits at a 111.8 which is 35 points higher than the next competitor Sean Newcomb of the Atlanta Braves. That number at least for now is skewed higher because of a 12 point “Victory Bonus” which is given to pitchers whos teams are leading their respective divisions. This early in the year that doesn’t really matter. Still, without the Victory Bonus Scherzer has a 99.8, with Wacha (73.2) and Mikolas (69.9) at 2nd and 3rd respectively. Even so, Scherzer has been filthy. He is 10-2 with a 2.00 ERA. He also has 142 strikeouts over 94.2 innings giving him 13.5 K/9 good for 1st in the Majors. The Cardinals I’m sure are scratching their heads as to why they went after David Price over Scherzer at this point.
As I mentioned above Mikolas currently owns a 69.9 Cy Young Predictor score. The CYP doesn’t favor Mikolas specifically as it does have a preference for high strikeout throwers. Mikolas is actually one of the worst in baseball in terms of strikeouts per 9, but he makes up for it with a low ERA, WHIP, and walk rate. It is also interesting to note that for every victory, Wacha and Mikolas essentially switch places, and wins are accounted for in the calculations. As I mentioned above, Mikolas has had a couple tough breaks where he should have had the victory. On April 27th in Pittsburgh, Mikolas went 7 innings and gave up 2 ER, but the Cards gave up a 3 run 9th inning and eventually lost in extra innings. On May 16th against Minnesota, Mikolas needed just one out to be in line for a decision, but was relieved by Brett Cecil after 4.2 IP giving up only 2 ER. On June 1st against Pittsburgh, Mikolas was given the loss eevn though he gave up only 1 ER in 6 innings where the Cardinals lost 4-0. If Mikolas recieved 2 wins instead of a ND his record goes to 9-1, and suddenly his CYP score rises to 81.9. Granted, that’s still a ways away from Scherzer, but closer nonetheless.
There are a few ways that CYP doesn’t really factor that gives Mikolas a fighting chance.
Mikolas throws strikes. Not only does he throw strikes, but even when he misses, he gets results. He is currently 2nd in MLB in strike percentage at 69.7%. Scherzer sits in 1st with a 69.8%. Mikolas is also 6th in the Majors in chase percentage at 35.7%. So, when he misses, he remains close enough to be deceptive to opposing hitters.
Mikolas doesn’t get a lot of strikeouts. He pitches to contact but with his high strike percentage, it limits how many baserunners he puts on. Through 79.1 innings he has 10 walks (one intentional) on the year He is 2nd in all of baseball in walks per 9 behind only Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians.
Here are some other notable rankings for Mikolas in the NL via Baseball Reference.
WAR – 6th – 2.2
ERA – 4th – 2.27
Win-Loss % – 3rd – .875
WHIP – 3rd – 0.96
Innings Pitched – 7th – 79.1 (interesting because he has 1-2 starts less than most near the top)
Strikeouts per Walk – 2nd – 6.45
Home Runs per 9 – 10th – 0.681
Adjusted ERA+ – 4th – 171
Fielding Independent Pitching – 7th – 3.07
Pitches per IP – 1st – 14.36
Opponents OPS – 6th – 0.588
There are even more advanced metrics that have Mikolas rated near the top, but I tried to keep it a little more simple while still using am eclectic set of statistics. Fangraphs rates his Fastball, Slider, and Curveball among top 25 for starters in terms of pitch value.
Miles Mikolas Slider 88 MPH on the #black #tail effect #stlcards https://t.co/IXY87CpWox
Back in January I said that Mikolas could be a dark horse for this team, but even I didn’t expect him to dominate like he has thus far. He reinvented himself in Japan and has turned into one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Scherzer remains his stiffest competition and for good reason, but I don’t think Mikolas’ season has been a fluke. If he can keep putting together solid performances, I have no doubt he will be in the Cy Young conversation and perhaps win it.
Thanks for Reading.
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Aaron M at Arch City. 47 likes. I’m a sports writer for Arch City Media. Also the co-host of “The Musial Suspects” Cardinals podcast!
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