What Are the St. Louis Cardinals Getting in Miles Mikolas?

St. Louis has signed the little-known pitcher to a multi-year deal. How does he fit into their plans for 2018?

Miles Mikolas is the first starting pitcher to be signed to a multi-year free agent contract this offseason. Of course he is.

The St. Louis Cardinals have signed the 29-year-old right-hander to a two-year contract, worth a reported $15.5 million. If the name Milos Mikolas doesn't ring any bells, don't fret. He hasn't been around for a while, spending the the last three seasons playing for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league.

Mikolas is a 6-foot-5 righty who was originally drafted by the San Diego Padres in the seventh round of the 2009 MLB Draft. He made his MLB debut in 2012 with San Diego, where he went 2-1 with a 3.62 ERA and a 4.86 FIP as a reliever in 32.1 innings. He missed virtually all of 2013 with an injury and then started 10 games for the Texas Rangers in 2014, going 2-5 with a 6.44 ERA and a 4.77 FIP.

He did flash moments of brilliance in his previous MLB days, though.

His home-road splits were drastic with Texas, as Mikolas preferred pitching away from the hitters haven in Arlington. He had a 13.73 ERA in 19.2 home innings and a 2.63 ERA in 37.2 innings on the road that season. He always had excellent numbers in the high minors, aided minuscule walk totals and a high ground-ball rate.

However, it was over the last three seasons in Japan where Mikolas really came into his own on the mound.

Year GS IP W L ERA K/9 BB/9 H/9 WHIP
2015 21 145.0 13 3 2.11 6.6 1.4 6.6 0.897
2016 14 91.2 4 2 2.45 8.2 2.3 8.2 1.167
2017 27 188.0 14 8 2.25 9.0 1.1 7.8 0.984

His first two seasons were excellent, but 2017 was the best of all for Mikolas -- he established a career high in games started, innings, strikeouts per nine innings, and walks per nine innings. He reportedly threw 92-93 mph last year, with a good curveball, cutter and slider. His main weapon is control and command, relying on a low walk and hit rate while piling up a respectable number of strikeouts.

Mikolas will join a St. Louis rotation that, at the moment, features Carlos Martinez, Luke Weaver, Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and Jack Flaherty, although recent rumors indicate the team is in the running for Giancarlo Stanton, and Wacha could be on the move if a deal ends up getting done.

It's obviously unclear whether Mikolas' success in Japan will translate to good things in the U.S., but the Cardinals hope his dominance overseas will help them fill out their rotation in 2018.