Miles Mikolas, St. Louis Cardinals
In preparation for what everybody assumed would be another division championship and postseason run, the Cardinals gave Mikolas a three-year, $55.75 million deal that paid him $21.667 million in 2023.
Nominally, Mikolas fulfilled his end of the bargain. As the staff’s highest-paid pitcher and the team’s third highest-paid player (behind Goldschmidt and Arenado), he made a team-high 34 starts, and worked a team-high 194 innings. That’s all you can ask, right?
Well, you could ask for performance. Mikolas was 8-13 in those 34 starts with a 4.82 ERA. He led the team with 219 hits and 107 runs allowed; the runners-up allowed 121 and 89 respectively. His 90 ERA+ was the worst of his career.
It all worked out to just 1.8 WAR (that’s replacement level) and -0.5 Win Probability Added. For $21.667 million, you’d think you could buy a pitcher who could actually help, not hurt, the team.
Mikolas still tied Steven Matz for second on the staff in WAR, behind only Jordan Montgomery (who was traded away in mid-season). But that says more about Cardinal pitching than it does about Mikolas. The entire 28-man staff only combined for 6.7 WAR.
Let those numbers soak in a while and you begin to understand why the preseason favorite Cardinals sank to the NL Central basement. It wasn’t all on Mikolas. But some of it was. Transactional grade: D