Who steps up for Mikolas?

The return of Carlos Martinez to the rotation should have been a celebration in the city featuring the best fans in baseball.  The eccentric “Tsunami” bringing his big personality and elite level stuff back into the rotation should have been a huge step in the right direction for a Cardinals rotation that is widely known for their depth. It did not go as planned, Martinez getting smacked around for six runs over two innings. The Cardinals will need better outings from their former ace and closer going forward with the news of the injury to Miles Mikolas, sidelining him for the remainder of 2020.  Martinez isn’t the only one that is going to have to step up for the Cardinals; there are multiple players that are going to need to take the next step fast.  

Austin Gomber 

Gomber played the role of long reliever and janitor, cleaning up the mess that Martinez made on the mound at Target Field.  Gomber pitched 1.2 innings striking out one and holding down the powerful Twins lineup long enough to attempt a comeback.  

Gomber’s immediate role looks like he will be in the mop up role for all starters that struggle out of the gate.  Rather than utilize him as a primarily left handed stopper he will be looked upon to eat up an average of two innings per appearance. He has two plus pitches he can utilize out of the pen, making him perfect for the current landscape of the MLB.   

The lengthy lefty brings a better pace to the game rather than Daniel Ponce de Leon.  He can come in and immediately throw strikes which has been an issue in the past for Ponce de Leon. 

Ryan Helsley

At one time he was considered a potential starter, coming into the season he was considered a possible closer.  Now he will be put into a premier setup role. Helsley will be looked at to pitch multiple innings in order to get to closer, Kwang Hyun Kim.  

If Kim is forced into the rotation Helsley is ready to slip straight into the closer role.  His ability to get out batters from both sides of the plate make him an instant successor based on the needs of the organization.  Helsley has the ability and poise to take the spot and run with it.  

Kodi Whitley

Whitley unexpectedly excelled in 2019 at both double-A and triple-A.  Whitley has the ability to miss bats averaging 10K/9 through both levels.  With Ryan Helsely and Giovanny Gallegos being forced into more multi-inning roles throughout the shortened season more opportunity could come Whitely’s way down the stretch in big moments.  

Whitley was utilized in relief against the Twins middle of the order that featured Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco and Nelson Cruz.  Whitley showed his mid-90s fastball and an exceptional change up that was able to keep the powerful bats off balance.  The Cardinals will be giving the 25-year old hurler a chance to become a more important factor earlier than planned but he has the stuff to be great.

The Cardinals bullpen has been stellar to start the season.  They have cleaned up the messes made by Carlos Martinez and Dakota Hudson.  In the format they will have to continue to be leaned on throughout the season.  Hudson and Martinez will improve but it will take more than a single person to overcome the loss of an innings eater like Mikolas.  The organization will need to continue to trust their young arms and they will be rewarded. 

Now if the offense could just get going….

May 24 MLB Draftkings Lineup

SP: Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets, $10,100

Thor is facing the Detroit Tigers who basically strikeout as if it was their personal hitting approach.  While he has had a few clunkers this season its hard not to think Syndergaard isn’t looking at ten strikeouts tonight

SP: Miles Mikolas, St. Louis Cardinals, $7,300

Multiple stud pitchers going on the slate tonight you have to find someone to pair with them.  Mikolas is coming off of his worst start of the year but at 7.3K he has the highest upside of the low to mid-tier plays.  Worth a dart throw.

C: Yan Gomes, Washington Nationals, $3,200

Gomes is cheap but brings double digit DK points in 2 of 3.  Catcher is a tough position go with the veteran that is swinging well.

1B: Pete Alonso, New York Mets, $5,300

The Mets are another stackable team tonight going against Tigers prospect Gregory Soto.  Soto has stunk in his first three career starts. There is no other way to sugar coat it.  Alonso will have opportunity with men on to do damage, most likely homers tonight.

2B: Michael Chavis, Boston Red Sox, $5,000

Four homers in 29 at-bats on the season versus lefties makes Chavis a nice play.  Chavis has been at the top of the Boston order over the last few games which also gives him value with more plate appearances. While I like Wade Miley I can see him as a potential fade at hitter friendly Minute Maid Park.

3B: Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals, $4,200

Matt Carpenter has had a few slow starts in his career but I think it’s finally time for a breakout. Matching up with Mike Foltynewicz who gives up a .270 ISO against lefties this season.  Carpenter has had some bad luck this season with his hard hit percentage being high yet his BABIP has not. 

SS: Marcus Semien, Oakland Athletics $4,000

Semien matchups up with with Leblanc’s favorite pitch, the changeup.  Semien has an iso of .250 for the season against that pitch.  Look for Semien to use his sneaky power to drive the ball for multiple extra base hits tonight.

OF: Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates $4,000

Marte is coming off of his best game of the 2019 season. Surprisingly Marte has also been hitting righties much better then lefties so a matchup with the tough Walker Buehler can scare a lot people off of him but with his great value and huge upside he is a perfect fit for your lineup.

OF: Steven Piscotty, Oakland Athletics, $3,700

Piscotty has a .441 wOBA versus lefties this season.  They face struggling Wade Leblanc.  He only costs 3.7K.  Any other questions?

OF: Steve Pearce, Boston Red Sox, $3,000

He should really be named chalky chalkerson for tonights game.  His career against lefties going along with his extremely low price will make him a most start in your lineup to save room for some pitching studs.

Jack Flaherty

Jack Flaherty to was very vocal in his displeasure with starting the 2018 season in Memphis.  The Cardinals decided to go with an ailing veteran Adam Wainwright instead of their top prospect.  Despite his disagreement with the decision Flaherty went down to Memphis an continued his dominance, going 4-1, 2.27ERA over 5 starts. The injury bug hit the Cardinals allowing them to call up the 2014 first round pick, he took no time at all in becoming the proverbial “Ace” of a potential playoff team.

Miles Mikolas has been the surprise of the 2018 season leading the team in wins and ERA.  He took home the only true All-Star birth for the Cardinals (Yadi in after Posey injury) and has established himself as the regular season MVP of the rotation.  As the playoffs get closer Mikolas has not stood out as the dominant force that Flaherty has.  Flaherty has shown the swing and miss stuff that you see from elite level starting pitching.  Only Max Scherzer (12.09) has a higher K/9 then Jack Flaherty (11.24).  Flaherty also through 5 less starts than Miles Mikolas has 32 more strikeouts.  That’s nearly double the K/9 rate as the pitcher most Cardinal fans would assume would be the starting pitcher of a potential Wild Card game.

The debate from most fans would be that Mikolas is a different kind of pitcher then Flaherty.  He pitches to contact more, throwing more strikes, going longer then Flaherty.  While those attributes are useful int he regular season it’s Flaherty’s ability to make hitters miss that can be beneficial in the big moments.  Similarly the Houston Astros would rather see Justin Verlander then Dallas Keuchel in a make or break moment of the playoffs.  Verlander brings the ability to get out of a tough situation by missing bats rather then hoping for perfect placement.  Flaherty has that ability along with a bulldog demeanor on the mound.  He has the confidence that he can strikeout any hitter in a lineup in any given situation.

The youth movement in the bullpen and in the field has seen great results in the month of August but it has been Flaherty that has taken on the role of staff leader.  Over his last seven starts he is 4-2 with a 2.45ERA, striking out 57 over 40.1 innings.  He has taken control of teams from the very start.  He has forced himself into the conversation for team ace purely by going out and taking it.

With the injuries to Michael Wacha and aCarlos Martinez and the current placement of the Cardinals at leading the Wild Card the question has come up on who would start the potential Wild Card game.  A young team can be motivated by presence and dominance.  A presence on the mound can be a determining factor for a young team.  Flaherty brings that Cris Carpenter intensity along with a dominant repertoire of pitches. He can be the pitcher that this team has been looking for.  The replacement for the great Adam Wainwright at the top of the rotation.  If the wild card game was tomorrow and you had everyone available to pitch the clear choice should be the pitcher that was an afterthought to begin the season.  The answer to the question of who is the Cardinals “Ace” is Jack Flaherty.