Miles Mikolas’ contract allowed him to become a free agent after the 2019 World Series, even though he will have only three years of major league service.
He’s not going anywhere now. Mikolas looks to duplicate or surpass 2018 performance
The 30-year-old right-hander recently signed a four-year, $68 million contract extension with the Cardinals. The deal will cover the 2020-23 seasons. He returned to the major leagues last year after three seasons in Japan, agreeing to a $15.5 million, two-year contract with St. Louis.
“Clearly, how Miles pitched last year, he ended up being the anchor of our rotation,” President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak said.He became a first-time All-Star, going 18-4 with a 2.83 ERA in 32 starts.
“I think when you combine his skill with his leadership and really his ability to help mentor young players it just seemed like, as we looked to the future, he was that natural person to take that next step to carry that for the St. Louis Cardinals,” Mozeliak said.
If Mikolas’ 2019 performance is similar to what he did last year, he likely would have received far more as a free agent next offseason. But Mikolas is happy with St. Louis. He will be the Cardinals opening-day starter this season.
“It’s an ideal situation,” Mikolas said. “Going forward in my baseball career there isn’t a team that I can see myself as a better fit for and no team that I’d rather see myself playing for than the St. Louis Cardinals.”
A seventh-round pick by San Diego in the 2009 amateur draft, Mikolas made his debut for the Padres three years later. He made 37 relief appearances for San Diego over two years, was traded to Pittsburgh and then Texas after the 2013 season and was 2-5 with a 6.44 ERA in 10 starts for Texas in 2014.
He was released by the Rangers and signed with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Central League and had a 2.18 ERA over three seasons with a 0.99 WHIP and 378 strikeouts in 424 2/3 innings.
In St. Louis, he emerged as the rotation anchor. He led the NL with 254 ground-ball outs. He had a 1.07 WHIP along with a 146/29 K/BB ratio across 200 2-3 innings.
“There’s a little bit of self-satisfaction,” Mikolas said. “I surprised a lot of people. This is what I’ve been trying to do my whole life – be this kind of pitcher.”
Mikolas had a 1.07 WHIP, struck out 146 and walked 29 in 200 2-3 innings.
“He’s such a strike thrower that it’s almost hard for him to get it out of the zone,” veteran pitcher Adam Wainwright said. “What a great problem that is to have, right?”
Last year, Mikolas finished sixth in voting for the Cy Young Award.
“He’s always had good stuff,” Cardinals General Manager Michael Girsch said. “I don’t think we expected him to have the best walk rate in the league, but we knew he’d throw strikes and had good stuff, and we thought he’d be a good, solid starting pitcher. We couldn’t be happier with how he’s worked out.”
Cardinals Manager Mike Shildt also was impressed.
“He does things that are tried and true,” Shildt said. “He throws strikes, quality strikes. He throws inside, and he commands the inner half of the plate. Pitching is a disruption of timing. He throws varying speeds, and he throws strikes with command. That’s a recipe for success.”
That recipe is one Mikolas hopes to duplicate this season.
“Whatever happened last year was last year,” Mikolas said. “The next step is to do it all over again. I’m definitely one not to try to get complacent and rest on my laurels. As far as I’m concerned, I’m out there to prove myself again. It’s a new season and it’s a new start. I’m sure I’ll have to adjust. Hitters will come in with a different game plan.
“I’m approaching the season with the same mindset I have always had as a pitcher – get outs. I take it one pitch at a time. Hit my spots and, you know, see where I’m at when the game’s over.”