by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There were mixed opinions on Miles Mikolas and his potential in his return to the Majors. Through his first two starts the questions about his ability haven’t been answered. A 6.00 ERA would seem like a complete turn off, but when you look at the underlying skills there does appear to be promise:
- Strikeouts – 7.50 K/9
- Control – 0.00 BB/9
- Groundballs – 53.7%
The fact that he has not issued a walk over 12.0 innings is a significant positive, as is his solid groundball rate. He’s shown an ability to throw a variety of pitches, which obviously helps, as he’s featured four pitches nearly equally:
- Fourseam – 29.84%
- Sinker – 24.61%
- Curveball – 23.04%
- Slider – 19.90%
Both his slider (18.42% Whiff%) and fourseam fastball (14.04%) have generated swings and misses and all but his fourseam fastball have been generating groundballs. That all points in the right direction, and while he is going to walk a few batters eventually it would appear likely that he can continue to produce all three skills.
While he has been hit relatively hard (24.4% line drive rate), a 64.8% strand rate indicates poor luck that should improve. He’s also surprisingly struggled with home runs, especially considering his groundball ability. All of that damage came in his first start (3 HR allowed), so the fact that he kept the ball in the ballpark in his second outing is yet another positive.
Mikolas has particularly struggled against left-handed hitters in the early going, something we will have to watch closely moving forward:
- vs. RHP – .200/.200/.433
- vs. LHP – .409/.409/.682
It’s likely we start to see opposing managers stacking their lineups with lefties, until Mikolas proves that he can get them out. Depending on the lineup it makes sense to take a conservative approach if that were the case, so for now he’s going to be considered lineup dependent.
At the end of the day it’s easy to be concerned, but there’s actually a lot working on his favor:
- A little strikeout upside
- A strong groundball rate
- Solid control
- Improved luck
While you may want to keep him on your bench, depending on the lineup, long-term he should be viewed as an asset. Don’t make the mistake of giving up hope too soon.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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