Cardinals righty Miles Mikolas has resumed throwing after undergoing a platelet-rich plasma injection for a strained flexor tendon in his right arm last month, writes Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Mikolas is currently limited to playing catch from 90 feet, but he’s upping the distance regularly and tells Hummel that he now expects to be able to contribute from day one of the regular season — whenever that is.
The forearm injury had previously wiped out any possibility of Mikolas being part of the active roster on the previously scheduled March 26 season opener, but that’s no longer the case. The right-hander had been eyeing a late April or early May return to the roster, and with Opening Day pushed back at least eight weeks, his rehab timeline should be complete before the season gets underway.
Penciling Mikolas into the starting rotation would force the Cardinals into a tough decision on the rest of the rotation. Jack Flaherty is a lock, of course, and former ace Carlos Martinez impressed early in spring as he built back up as a starter. Veteran Adam Wainwright is back on another one-year deal as well, and the Cards also have young righty Dakota Hudson and offseason pickup Kwang-Hyun Kim in the fold as well — the latter of whom turned in eye-opening results in the abbreviated first iteration of Spring Training. There’s ample depth even beyond that group, too. Right-handers Daniel Ponce de Leon and Jake Woodford are both on the 40-man roster, as are lefties Austin Gomber and Genesis Cabrera.
The Cards will surely file all that away in the “good problem to have” drawer if it pans out, but first and foremost will be monitoring Mikolas’ rehab efforts. He’s still only playing catch from flat ground, so he’ll need to progress to throwing off a mound, throwing his breaking pitches and eventually building up to a starter’s workload. Ideally, he’ll be in the mix to start one of the Cardinals’ first games of the season, but as already illustrated, the organization has plenty of depth in the event of a setback.
Mikolas is entering the first season of a four-year, $68MM extension that he inked last spring. He’s owed a $15.75MM salary in each season of the deal, plus the prorated portion of a $5MM signing bonus to be paid each January over the life of the deal.