The Cardinals have announced that right-hander Miles Mikolas will be their Opening Day starter.
After being signed last offseason out of Japan, Mikolas has rejuvenated his major league career. Following his 2014 campaign with the Texas Rangers, in which he pitched to a 6.44 earned run average, he went to a team overseas in Japan. He excelled with his new team, which warranted his return to Major League Baseball.
“It was smart of him to go to Japan and work on his pitching instead of going to the minors. Going overseas can teach you a lot more,” junior Blake Haffer said.
In his first season back in the MLB, Mikolas received Cy Young Award votes. Through 200.2 total innings of work, he put up a 2.83 earned run average, 18-4 record, while only walking 1.3 batters per nine innings, the best mark in the league. It resulted in Mikolas being selected to his first All-Star Game. Additionally, his 4.1 wins above replacement ranked ninth across the entire league.
“Going into the season last year, everyone expected him to be pitching in the bottom of the rotation. Now a year later he is making the Opening Day start,” junior Ethan Seymore said.
Carlos Martinez went on two weeks no throw earlier this week after letting the team know about his shoulder fatigue. It is unclear whether the Cardinals’ 2018 Opening Day starter being out for Opening Day with an injury put Mikolas ahead, or if he was already slated to start on Opening Day before Martinez’s injury occurred. It will be the first time in a decade a pitcher not named Adam Wainwright or Carlos Martinez has started on Opening Day.
“If Carlos Martinez was healthy, it would have been a very tough choice to make for Mike Shildt. Both of them are very good pitchers,” junior Jacob Justice said.
Mikolas will be facing one of his former teams, in the San Diego Padres, on Opening Day.