2019 Projection Series: Miles Mikolas

Miles Mikolas

The 2018 season went far better than most thought for then-new Cardinals pitcher, Miles Mikolas. It went far better than I thought it would. As for my 2018 projections, well, they basically hit Miles Mikolas right on (see rate stats below especially). Here is what my 2018 projections thought for Mikolas compared to what really happened:

I don’t know anyone that was really projecting anything that well for him besides mine (and possibly Moz_Algorithm on Twitter) - but I personally thought my projections were way too optimistic. In fact, here is what I wrote about them:

It’s here that my projections take a turn for the worse. I have not yet figured out how to code into my projection system certain things - and when players have played the majority of their careers (especially recently) outside of MLB - i.e., Japan, the minors, etc. - the projections get a bit wonky.
Mikolas hails from Japan the last couple of years and getting those stats to translate is no easy task - ask Clay Davenport. His numbers over there were great, so look at these great numbers it spits out!

Ha! How stupid I was...or lucky. I’m not sure which!

In any case, here is what my system thinks of Mikolas in 2019.

33 starts, 205 2/3 innings pitched, 6.232 IP/GS

2.71 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 1.109 WHIP, 5.24 K:BB

8.533 H/9, 7.571 K/9, 1.444 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9

Basically, it projects him to be better than last year, even. Pretty incredible. If so, I really hope that he signs an extension before or during the season rather than after. Remember, Mikolas will not turn 31 until August 23rd. He’ll be in his age 30 season this year and be 30 for about the first 25-27 starts of this season.

Over the last 5 years, the average starter has this line in 30 starts:

As you can see, Mikolas projects to be a WELL ABOVE average starter by all of the metrics shown except for K/9. Even then, he’s projected to be right around league average.

What can be pointed out to show that things CAN be better than that?!?

Mikolas threw 5 different pitches in 2018 and hitters whiffed on three of them at least 22.8% of the time. His change up, curve, and slider were those 3 pitches, with the slider producing a whiff 27.6% of the time. Here is one of those sliders:

Backdoor slider for a strike - with a tail effect (cardinalsgifs)

How/If things go wrong:

It’s REALLY hard to walk people at such a low rate. 1.3 BB/9 for an entire season? That led the league. He walked only 2.8 batters per 9 innings as a reliever his final season before going to Japan. Even in Japan, he walked 1.5 batters per 9 innings while over there (but 1.1 his final season). To do that again over 33 starts is going to be ridiculously hard. He had one season in Japan with, a still very good but nearly double last year, 2.3 BB/9.