Miles Mikolas

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Miles Tice Mikolas
(Lizard King)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Pitcher Miles Mikolas reached the majors with the San Diego Padres in 2012.

Mikolas finishing his college career with 167 strikeouts, among the top five in school history. He was selected by the Padres in the seventh round of the 2009 amateur draft. He would be the first player San Diego drafted that year to make the majors. He was signed by scout Rob Sidwell and made his pro debut that summer with the Eugene Emeralds, going 1-8 with a 5.94 ERA in 15 appearances, split between the rotation and the bullpen. He tied Christopher Odegaard for the Northwest League lead in losses. The lone bright spot was only 9 walks in 53 innings.

Exclusively used as a reliever for the Fort Wayne TinCaps in 2010, he recorded 13 saves while going 6-3 with a 2.20 ERA in 60 games. He struck out 78 and walked 15 in 81 2/3 innings. His opponent average fell all the way from .338 in 2009 to .240. He easily led the Midwest League in appearances (8 more than anyone else) while he ranked 5th in the San Diego chain in games pitched.

He began 2011 with the Lake Elsinore Storm, notching a dozen saves, three wins and no losses while posting a 1.13 ERA in 34 outings. Promoted to the San Antonio Missions in July, he saved 9 games in 28 appearances for them. He was 1-0 with a 1.67 ERA for San Antonio.

Mikolas began 2012 back with San Antonio (1-1, 4 Sv, 2.92 in 12 G) but was brought up to the majors by the Padres when closer Huston Street went on the disabled list. He made his big league debut against the Miami Marlins on May 5th, relieving in the top of the 9th with a 3-1 deficit. He allowed a leadoff homer to Giancarlo Stanton. He struck out two of the next four batters, while allowing one walk, to escape further damage. He pitched 25 times in San Diego that year, with a 2-1 record and a 3.62 ERA in 32 1/3 innings. He also pitched 17 times in AAA with the Tucson Padres, going 2-1, 3.20. In spite of his good results in his first time facing big league hitters, he was back in the minor for most of 2013. He made 54 relief appearances with Tucson, with a record of 4-2, 3.25 and 26 saves. he struck out 40 batters in 61 innings. He tied Evan Marshall for 7th in the 2013 PCL in games pitched and he was third in saves behind Chris Hatcher and Heath Hembree. He was called up twice by the Padres, both times in July, but made a single appearance each time and then went immediately back to Tucson. He had no record in those two games, pitching 1 2/3 scoreless innings. On November 25th, he and prospect Jaff Decker were sent to the Pittsburgh Pirates in return for AA OF Alex Dickerson, a native of San Diego. On December 30th, he was traded again, going to the Texas Rangers for Chris McGuiness.

Mikolas made his Rangers debut on July 2, 2014, after having started the season in the minors. It was also his first time as a starter in the major leagues. He did alright, allowing 3 runs to the Baltimore Orioles in 5 1/3 innings, leaving with a 4-3 lead, but relievers quickly allowed the O's to tie the game, and then win it, 6-4, as he ended up with a no-decision. He had gone 5-1, 3.22 in 16 games for the AAA Round Rock Express, including 6 starts; his most impressive stat was a K/W ratio of 38/3. Prior to 2014, his last professional starts had come in his first season, 2009, when he had struggled in the role. He had a much tougher time of it on August 13th, however, when he gave up 10 runs in 6 innings in a loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. He had to keep on pitching in spite of struggling badly because the Rangers' bullpen was completely spent: they needed to use rookie Alex Claudio, making his major league debut after arriving at the ballpark late in the day, and C J.P. Arencibia to finish the game.

Mikolas pitched in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants from 2015 to 2017. He was quite successful, going 13-3, 1.92 the first year and 14-8, 2.25 the last (he was 4-2, 2.45 in 14 games in 2016). His strikeout rate also improved over the three season, reaching 187 in 188 innings the final year. As a result, he elicited a lot of interest when he decided to return to the United States following the 2017 season, as he signed a two-year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals worth $15.5 million. He celebrated his return to the majors on April 2, 2018, by connecting for a homer with a runner on base against Kyle Davies of the Milwaukee Brewers; it was his first career hit in MLB. He went on to be credited with an 8-4 win, giving up 4 runs in 5 2/3 innings. He got off to a great start with his new team, as after his first seven starts, he was 5-0, 2.51 with a K/W ratio of 35/3. On May 21st, he pitched his first career shutout, a four-hitter in a 6-0 win over the Kansas City Royals. He made the All-Star Game and finished the year with an outstanding record of 18-4, 2.83, tying for the National League lead in wins and shutouts and leading th circuit in winning percentage. He struck out 146 batters while walking just 29 in 200 2/3 innings.

Following his excellent first season with the team, in February 2019 the Cards signed him for another four years for $48 million. However, he fell back significantly that year, going from leading the NL in wins to leading it in losses as he went 9-14, 4.16 in 32 starts. He logged 184 innings, allowed 193 hits, walked 32 batters and struck out 144. He made his postseason debut that year, with a start in Game 1 of the Division Series against the Atlanta Braves on October 3rd and was not involved in the decision as he gave up 1 run in 5 innings. In Game 4 on October 7th, he came in in relief in the 10th inning as the Cardinals' eighth pitcher of the night. He tossed a perfect inning and received credit for the win when St. Louis scored a run in the bottom of the inning, winning 5-4. He then started Game 1 of the NLCS against the Washington Nationals on October 11th and again pitched very well, allowing just 1 run in 6 innings, but the Cardinals' bats were stymied and he ended up losing the game, 2-0, the first loss in a four-game sweep.

He had right arm flexor surgery before the 2020 season and missed the entire year, not returning until May 22, 2021, when he made one start, lasted four innings, and went back on the injured list until August 20th. As a result, he made only 9 starts, going 2-3, 4.23 and pitching 44 2/3 innings. He was not used in the Wild Card Game which the Cardinals lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was back in full health in 2022 and went 4-4, 2.93 through his first 12 starts. On June 14th, he started the second game of a doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates and flirted with history as he held them hitless through 8 2/3 innings before surrendering a double to Cal Mitchell with two outs in the 9th. He had a two-strike count on Mitchell, but the rookie managed to drive the next pitch over the head of CF Harrison Bader, just inches out of reach of his outstretched glove. It was Mikolas' 129th pitch of the game, and he was immediately lifted in favor of Packy Naughton, who recorded the final out of the 9-1 win. The lone run had come in the 4th when Bryan Reynolds reached on a two-base error by LF Juan Yepez and came in to score an unearned run on a ground out by Daniel Vogelbach. He finished the season at 12-13, 3.29 in 33 games, reaching the 200-inning mark for the second time with 202 1/3. He started Game 2 of the Wild Card Series against the Philadelphia Phillies on October 8, 2022 but gave up 2 runs in 4 1/3 innings, including a solo homer by Bryce Harper, and he was charged with the 2-0 loss that eliminated the Cardinals.

He pitched for the United States national team in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. At the end of the tournament, he signed a two-year contract extension with the Cardinals. He was also named the club's 2023 opening day starter.

He earned his nickname, "Lizard King", because he once ate a live lizard while in the Arizona Fall League as a member of the Padres' organization in 2011.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2-time NL All-Star (2018 & 2022)
  • NL Wins Leader (2018)
  • NL Winning Percentage Leader (2018)
  • NL Shutouts Leader (2018)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 1 (2018)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 3 (2018, 2022 & 2023)

Further Reading[edit]

  • John Denton: "Mikolas 1 strike (and inches!) shy of no-no",, June 15, 2022. [1]
  • John Denton: "Mikolas, Cards agree to two-year extension",, March 24, 2023. [2]
  • Jeff Jones (Belleville News-Democrat): "Will Cardinals’ Mikolas bedevil batters with a special pitch this year? Only he knows", Yahoo! News, February 18, 2023. [3]
  • Jenifer Langosch: "Cardinals sign Mikolas to 2-year contract: Right-handed starter excelled in Japan past 3 seasons",, December 5, 2017. [4]

Related Sites[edit]