Miles Mikolas’ return to the IL is alarming


Miles Mikolas hadn’t pitched since 2019 when he made his first start of the year for the St Louis Cardinals. The start alarmingly also ended in injury.

When Miles Mikolas left his first start of the 2021 season after just 4.0 innings on Saturday, St Louis Cardinals fans were right to worry.

After the team signed Mikolas to a four-year, $68M extension in the spring of 2019, they were expecting the righty to contribute much more than he has. After missing all of 2020, it took just one bullpen this spring for Mikolas to be sidelined with right forearm tightness.

During his three rehab starts at AAA, there was no word about any setbacks for Mikolas pertaining to this injury, but then things changed of course when he finally got on the mound at Busch. When the injury happened, all that was shared was that it was the same right forearm tightness issue.

When Mikolas returned to the IL on Sunday, it confirmed that this wasn’t a precautionary issue with Mikolas.

We have recalled RHP Junior Fernández from Memphis (AAA).

RHP Miles Mikolas (right forearm tightness) has been placed on the 10-day IL.

— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) May 23, 2021

Mikolas’ flexor tendon surgery kept him out for the entirety of 2020, but it’s unclear whether the two stints on the IL in 2021 are related.

The bigger issue here is simply that Mikolas can’t figure out how to get back on the field. The Cardinals likely jumped the gun some in 2019 when they extended Mikolas (at age 30) for four more years. As most players who come from foreign leagues do, Mikolas regressed in 2019, but he was at least healthy and ate some innings.

Now, it’s unclear whether or not the team is going to be able to depend on Mikolas at any point this year. There is a lot of year left, but the first time he was out with forearm tightness it lasted from the first day of spring until now, late in May. If this injury lasts just as long, it could be August before Mikolas finds himself pitching on the mound again.

If Mikolas misses the bulk of two seasons, it’s going to be very hard to be happy about the $34M the team still owes him over 2022 and 2023. The other thought is that the Cardinals would be much more inclined to feel like they needed another starter at the deadline. While that could mean bringing in St. Louis native Max Scherzer, the team would be happier to just have the players in house perform and be healthy.

There hasn’t been any more news on Mikolas’ status since he was placed on the IL, but this injury is alarming and hopefully he can find his way back to health quickly.


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