The Cards announced the following transaction in advance of tonight’s game:
5/21/21: Optioned RHP Seth Elledge to AAA Memphis. Activated RHP Miles Mikolas from the 10-day IL.
Mikolas has been activated for tonight’s game to make the start against the Chicago Cubs, his first major league action since September 22nd, 2019. He made 3 rehab starts for the AAA Memphis club beginning on May 5th and improved with each outing. He surrendered first inning home runs in his first two appearances and the Durham club fouled off a bunch of pitches in his first outing which raised his pitch count. Mikolas started off with 57 pitches in just 2.1 IP his first time out, and advanced all the way to 80 pitches over 6 innings on May 16th. Even in his first outing, he showed decent command of all his pitches, and over the 3 games, struck out 11 batters to just 2 walks over a total of 12.1 innings.
In my last article, I was wrong about a couple of things. The first is that Gant will not be going to the bullpen right now. Like with the club’s last stretch of 17 games in 17 straight days, the Cards are going to use a 6-man rotation, of which Gant will be a part. Mikolas has 5 days of rest in advance of tonight’s start. Wainwright (tomorrow), Kim and Gant (Monday and Wednesday) will all pitch on 7 days of rest before their next start and Flaherty and Martinez will both get 5 days. Here’s how it shakes out over the next several days:
5/20: Open date
This gives the Cardinals extra protection for their rotation, but does nothing to fix the bullpen, as Gant won’t be moving there for a while. We all know about the guys in the bullpen giving up too many walks and hits, and there isn’t much in AAA Memphis to help. Junior Fernandez has already been optioned, and the other choices are either redundant starter/long man types or injured. It will be interesting to see if the Cards decide to give someone a shot just to try something different.
I had though originally that Jake Woodford would be optioned, simply because Daniel Ponce de Leon is back and not only has Mike Shildt been reluctant to use either one, but they are both similar long men. Elledge pitched last night and didn’t personally retire any of the 5 batters he faced (4 hits and 1 walk), but got out of the inning because Cub runner got thrown out on the bases. Perhaps that performance combined with the fact that Woodford has 7 days of rest going into tonight’s game combined to make the decision. The moves leave the club with an 8-man pen and a 4-man bench.
Flaherty, Martinez, Mikolas, Wainwright, Kim, Gant
Cabrera (L), Gallegos, Helsley, Ponce de Leon, Reyes, Webb (L), Whitley, Woodford
Knizner, Carpenter, Moroff, Thomas