On Thursday night, Daniel Ponce de Leon did something he hadn’t done since 2018.
He recorded a big league save after he shut the door on the D-backs in a 5-4, 10-inning win.
The save was just his second in his two attempts since debuting in the Majors in 2018 with the Cardinals. Ponce de Leon has appeared in 42 games, 22 of which have been starts, in his four big league seasons, all with St. Louis.
Already having made seven relief appearances and two starts coming into Friday, manager Mike Shildt said Ponce de Leon can look to fill a role in the pitching staff as someone who can come in to pitch out of tight situations and as someone who can eat up innings.
“When you have somebody that has the ability to do what he did last night, and grab a high leverage inning with the lead late, that's huge,” Shildt said. “There's also going to be times where you need guys to grab a couple of innings to keep the game close. That's huge, too.”
Shildt compared Ponce de Leon’s usage to how Giovanny Gallegos was developed once he reached the big leagues. While in the Yankees organization, Gallegos started in 26 of his first 57 appearances in the Minors before he was transitioned into a bullpen arm.
Whether as a long relief option or a late inning weapon, Shildt said Ponce de Leon -- who had a 3.24 ERA in seven relief appearances so far in ‘21 -- has provided a valuable asset to the Cardinals' ballclub regardless of his role.
“I think he definitely can be that guy, which is a valuable guy,” Shildt said.
No structural damage for Mikolas
Starter Miles Mikolas will be out of baseball action for the next four-to-six weeks after recent test results revealed no structural damage to the flexor tendon in his right arm and no UCL damage.
Mikolas did have “a small calcification” within the flexor tendon. The righty was prescribed a stem cell injection to the area and will wait until his next evaluation before the next steps are determined.
“Everything structurally is as we anticipated which is sound and intact, so that's huge,” Shildt said.
Shildt said Mikolas will not pick up a baseball during the four-to-six week timeframe. The Cardinals skipper added that the test results, which lineup with the initial tests, are good news for the righty.
“He and we expect, unless there's a setback, that he'll pitch again for us this year,” Shildt said.