March 12: Mikolas won’t throw for the next seven to ten days, Mozeliak tells Goold. An MRI taken of his right shoulder did not reveal any structural issues but did show some inflammation. Mikolas will undergo further testing in the coming days once the inflammation subsides a bit.
March 11: Cardinals right-hander Miles Mikolas has been slowed by shoulder troubles thus far this spring, but the club received generally positive results after a wave of imaging yesterday, it seems. Manager Mike Shildt told reporters this morning that Wednesday’s wave of tests did not reveal any structural damage in Mikolas’ shoulder or elsewhere in his arm (Twitter link via Rob Rains of StlSportsPage.com). Shildt described the results as “favorable,” but he’ll also be backed off his throwing program for the time being.
It’s unclear at this point just when Mikolas will be ready to return to the mound. The Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold wrote yesterday that the club does not expect Mikolas to be ready to begin the regular season in the rotation, which would create some uncertainty at the back of the rotation early in the year. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak has already indicated that touted but oft-injured righty Alex Reyes will be used as a multi-inning piece out of the bullpen, with a target of around 100 innings hopefully on the docket.
At present, the Cardinals’ top three options are set with Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright and Kwang Hyun Kim all locked in. Righty Carlos Martinez has oscillated between starter and reliever over the course of his five-year contract extension, but given this year’s $11MM salary and the growing need for starters, it seems likely he’ll open the year in the rotation as well.
The Cards have plenty of depth options in their ranks. Righty Daniel Ponce de Leon has fared better as a reliever in his limited big league career to this point, but he does have 20 serviceable MLB starts under his belt. Fellow right-hander John Gant was used exclusively out of the ’pen in 2019-20 but also made 19 starts for the Cardinals in 2018 and threw well in that showing. Lefty Genesis Cabrera has been used primarily as a reliever in the Majors over the past two seasons but has almost exclusively started as a minor leaguer. Prospects Johan Oviedo and Jake Woodford both made their Major League debuts in 2020 as well.
It wouldn’t be a shock if the Cardinals looked into some additional starting options — they reportedly had some degree of interest in Jake Odorizzi — though the in-house depth they have should be able to hold things down as long as Mikolas isn’t in line for a significant absence. If the Cardinals do want to add some veteran depth, there are still a few free agents of note on the market, including Rick Porcello, Trevor Cahill and Homer Bailey. Others could hit the market in the coming weeks as veterans exercise opt-out provisions in non-roster deals around the league, and at least a handful of depth options figure to hit waivers as teams continue to inch closer to setting Opening Day rosters.