If I can keep it up all month, 31 days of positive posts! There's going to be enough negativity going around with the Cardinals not in the post-season.
Miles Mikolas was a low-key free agent signing by the St. Louis Cardinals this past offseason. He was a failed reliever with the Texas Rangers when he left the US to play overseas and he came back having accomplished a ton in the NPB. He had become one of the best, most consistent starters in the league over the past couple of seasons there. He was on par with or better than phenom Shohei Ohtani on the bump, at least statistically. He didn't have the 130,000 mph fastball that Ohtani was rumored to have...but Mikolas could pitch. At least, he could over there. The question was, would it translate?
In 2018, Mikolas was the second most valuable Cardinal by fWAR (4.3) and bWAR (4.1). Those average out to 4.2 WAR. That was nearly 1 WAR behind Carpenter for the team lead, but a half a win above replacement higher than tomorrow's topic of conversation. Miles Mikolas was a ground ball machine for the most part. He had a 49.3% GB rate compared to a league average of just 43.0% for starting pitchers. While starting pitchers league-wide struck out 21.6% and walked 8.0% of the batters they faced, they ended up throwing 16.43 pitches per inning and 63.9% of them for strikes. Mikolas took the more economical route. He threw just 14.97 pitches per inning, throwing 69.3% of them for strikes. That led to a lot more contact, striking out just 18.1% of batters faced, but at the same time he walked just 3.6 of the batters he faced. I'll take Mikolas' line on that any day. His K%-BB% was better than league average at 14.5% to 13.6% due to how few free passes he gave out. His K:BB was over 5:1 compared to league average of less than 3:1 for starters.
Not only that, but league-wide, starters averaged just 5.36 innings per start. Mikolas averaged 6.27 innings per start - that's nearly 3 outs more per start. For a team that needed to keep relievers fresh in a bad way at times, that was a life saver. You can't say that he was left in too long very often either, as his ERA for the season was a robust 2.83. While he outpitched his FIP and xFIP, those numbers were also both better than league average by half a run or more.
My favorite Mikolas stat of the year is this. He went 10-0 on the road. Busch is a pitchers' haven and he went 10-0 on the road. He's the third pitcher in MLB history to record double digit wins on the road with no losses. Awesome.
Positive October Day 2 is in the books!