Mikolas needs surgery, out for rest of season

July 29th, 2020

The injury that Cardinals starter dealt with in Spring Training did not relent and has ended his season, the club announced Tuesday.

The Cardinals placed Mikolas on the 10-day injured list with a forearm strain, which will require surgery to repair the flexor tendon in his right arm. He will be out for the remainder of the 2020 season, and the Cardinals expect him to be back for 2021.

“I know Miles is disappointed, but he also knows he couldn’t continue like he was going,” president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said Tuesday.

will start Wednesday’s game against the Twins in place of Mikolas. In a corresponding move announced Tuesday afternoon, the Cardinals recalled right-hander from the alternate training site in Springfield, Mo. Woodford was one of two players, along with infielder Max Schrock, on the Cardinals’ taxi squad for the series against the Twins at Target Field.

The Cardinals also activated reliever from the injured list after he was able to build up over the last week due to arriving late in camp for undisclosed reasons. Gallegos was available to pitch Tuesday night.

Mikolas, 31, missed most of Spring Training with a flexor tendon strain in his right forearm after soreness surfaced at the end of last season and in the offseason. A platelet-rich injection in February was going to delay his availability by at least a month if the season had started in March.

But with the almost four-month long stoppage of play, Mikolas was able to rehab and ramp up in Jupiter, Fla., to be ready for the start of the shortened season. He was healthy to start Summer Camp after the time off.

“In March, we felt like rest was what he most needed,” Mozeliak said. “And as he was coming back to his throwing program, he wasn’t feeling that same discomfort. But as he ramped it up over the last couple appearances in camp two, he did start to feel it again, and unfortunately just could not proceed.”

Mikolas started the Cardinals’ exhibition win over the Royals last Wednesday and was effective across four innings, but he had a noticeable dip in his velocity, averaging 91 mph on his four-seam fastball, according to Statcast, after averaging 94 mph in 2019. He stopped throwing during Sunday’s bullpen session because of the soreness and had an MRI on Monday that revealed the damage remained. Mozeliak said the ligament is intact, so the Cardinals wanted to shut him down now instead of pitching through it and requiring a full reconstruction, like Tommy John surgery, later.

Mikolas’ surgery location and date has not been determined. This is the first year in a four-year, $68 million extension Mikolas signed with the Cardinals at the beginning of last season.

Mozeliak said the Cardinals are considering outside options to add pitching depth with Mikolas out but first want to evaluate internal options. The Trade Deadline this season is Aug. 31.

“We’re just trying to understand what some of our internal options are, but also explore a couple external options as well,” Mozeliak said. “But obviously we have a couple open spots, but we just want to see what the best way to answer that is. But we do think we need to add some depth down there.”

Kim to stay in bullpen
The Cardinals said they intend to keep Kwang Hyun Kim in the closer role, even with Mikolas out for the season. Until about a week ago, the lefty was in the rotation conversation before being moved to the bullpen when Carlos Martínez was named the fifth starter.

In his final start in Spring Training, Kim flummoxed Twins hitters in Florida. But the Cardinals like the look he gives in the back end of the bullpen and don’t want to change that look, at least not in the next few days. The team is hoping Ponce de Leon -- who has been on the Triple-A Memphis shuttle the past few years -- takes advantage of his opportunity Wednesday.

“Just from the simplest standpoint of not having to disrupt everything that we’ve sort of set up at this point, the easiest move would be to have Ponce make that start,” Mozeliak said. “In terms of being wedded to what our rotation looks like over the next week or two weeks, honestly we’re literally day by day right now, and that’s how we’re going to approach it. We’ll just see how things play out each day we’ll take the field.”

Manager Mike Shildt added: “We made a move to put [Kim] in the back end of the bullpen. We did that because we have confidence in him, and Ponce is built up and ready to take that responsibility. So there’s a number of factors into it, but that’s the way we went.”

Worth noting
• On their first road trip of 2020, both Mozeliak and Shildt expressed comfort with traveling, even after the postponement of Marlins games and schedule rearrangement of AL and NL East teams due to COVID-19 concerns.

“To have the flexibility to rethink scheduling, adding doubleheaders, I think that gives all of us some reason for hope that even if something happened, we might be able to survive it as a league,” Mozeliak said. “I really feel the effort that this staff is putting out to try to remain safe and try to be safe has been exemplary. … As far as being compliant with what’s expected of everybody in this clubhouse, I think the last 24 hours opened up a lot of eyes. I think people realize what’s at risk.”

• Infielder Brad Miller, who is on the injured list with bursitis in his right ankle, traveled with the club to Minneapolis instead of staying at the Cardinals’ alternate training site in Springfield, Mo. He’s eligible to come off the injured list Friday, when the Cardinals play the Brewers, but Mozeliak said he wanted to see how the next few days play out.

• Alex Reyes and Génesis Cabrera will throw live batting practice Wednesday at the Springfield camp as the next step in ramping up to be ready to join the Cardinals. Both pitchers tested positive for COVID-19 during intake testing and quarantined for two weeks without the ability to throw, so they went to Springfield to start the season.