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Miles Mows ‘Em Down

Miles Mikolas

Miles Mikolas

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

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The Cardinals wound up losing a heartbreaker to the Mets on Monday, but they can take some solace in another excellent outing from a resurgent Miles Mikolas.

Mikolas did his best to match his counterpart – three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer -- in a game which was a pitcher’s duel for most of the night until some craziness broke out late. The Cards right-hander fired seven shutout innings, limiting the Mets to just four hits, one walk and one hit by pitch. He fanned five and got 11 swinging strikes on his 95 pitches.

Scherzer was even better in striking out 10 over seven shutout innings of his own. Neither pitcher got a decision, as St. Louis took the lead with two runs in the eighth, only to give it right back up with the Mets plating five in a ninth-inning rally fueled by a rare Nolan Arenado misplay and Giovanny Gallegos mental mistake.

The stellar effort from Mikolas continues a three-start trend which has seen him allow just one run on 11 hits with a 17/2 K/BB ratio over 18 2/3 innings of work. The one run charged to Mikolas during that stretch scored after he was removed from the game.

We’ve also seen Mikolas’ velocity start to tick up. After he averaged under 92 mph with his fastball in his first two outings of the season, he’s sat above 93 mph each of the last two times out.

Mikolas isn’t going to be a big strikeout pitcher, but he helps make up for that with terrific control which has made him a WHIP asset when he’s been at his best. He’ll also be backed by arguably the best defense in baseball.

Mikolas will try to keep it going this weekend in a juicy home matchup against the Diamondbacks.

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Walker Buehler vs. ARI – 9 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 10 K

Buehler entered Monday’s matchup with the Diamondbacks having been un-Buehler-like in his first three outings which featured a 4.02 ERA and 11/6 K/BB ratio over 15 2/3 frames. He found something against the overmatched Arizona lineup, though, both in terms of his velocity ticking back up and certainly in terms of results, tallying baseball’s first complete game and shutout of the season and the first shutout of his career. Buehler is a guy who the Dodgers have often brought along slowly in spring training, so it’s a fair conclusion that he might have been affected by this year’s abbreviated spring more than most. Regardless, it looked like he righted the ship Monday.

Corbin Burnes vs. SF – 6 2/3 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 11 K

He wound up having to settle for a tough-luck no-decision, but that doesn’t lessen the dominance Burnes displayed on Monday. In addition to the 11 strikeouts, Burnes also picked up a whopping 26 whiffs, which is the highest number any pitcher has reached so far this season. The reigning National League Cy Young winner wasn’t terribly sharp on Opening Day against the Cubs, but since then he’s yielded just two runs with a 29/3 K/BB ratio over 20 2/3 innings covering three starts.

Max Scherzer vs. STL – 7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 10 K

Scherzer put forth a sublime effort in his hometown Monday but, unfortunately, was also saddled with a no-decision like Burnes. “Mad Max” surrendered a couple singles to Paul Goldschmidt (one of which had an xBA of .050) and a walk to Tommy Edman and that was it over seven shutout frames. He picked up 21 swinging strikes among his 101 pitches. In the Statcast era, Scherzer has totaled 80 games with 20+ whiffs, which is far and away the most in baseball.

Framber Valdez vs. TEX – 6 IP, 1 R (0 ER), 4 H, 2 BB, 5 K

Here’s yet another excellent effort which didn’t result in a win. Can we get rid of that statistic already? Valdez didn’t have the eye-popping strikeout total that Burnes and Scherzer did, but he limited the Rangers to just one unearned run across six gutty innings, registering 11 whiffs on his 97 pitches. Perhaps most important was that Valdez only issued two walks after he handed out nine free passes in his previous two outings.

Hitters with an EDGE

Taylor Ward vs. CLE – 2-for-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI

Angels manager Joe Maddon switched up his lineup on Monday against the Guardians, moving Ward up to the leadoff spot and Shohei Ohtani down to the two-hole and Mike Trout to the three-spot. Ohtani and Trout combined for just one hit, but Ward continued to dazzle in producing his first career multi-homer game. Both long balls came off of Shane Bieber and accounted for all of the Halos’ runs. Ward got a late start to the season thanks to a minor groin injury, but since returning he’s put up a .367/.525/.700 batting line with three home runs, one stolen base and an 8/10 K/BB ratio.

Luis Gonzalez vs. MIL – 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI

Gonzalez’s first major league home run was a big one, as he crushed a two-out, two-run, tie-breaking home run in the top of the ninth inning in a win over the Brewers. He picked up a single, as well, in what was also his first-ever multi-hit contest. Gonzalez has started three straight games and could continue to see regular action in center field while Steven Duggar (oblique) is sidelined.

Bo Bichette vs. BOS – 1-for-4, HR, 4 RBI

It was his only hit of the night, but when your first career grand slam is a tiebreaking shot in the eighth inning against a division rival, you get highlighted in this space, okay? Bichette has not yet gotten going offensively from the two spot in the Blue Jays’ lineup, having entered this one with a .529 OPS and 20/2 K/BB ratio. Here’s hoping that the big knock on Monday gets him going.

Priority Pickup

Eric Lauer, SP, Brewers – Available in 60 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues

It’s hard to believe Lauer is still only rostered in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues, but that number is on the rise after what he did to the Phillies on Sunday. In six shutout innings the left-hander fanned a career-high 13 batters while yielding just five hits and one walk. Yes, home plate umpire Angel Hernandez aided Lauer with his laughable strike zone, but the southpaw also induced 17 swinging strikes. Fantasy managers have seemingly been slow to catch on, but Lauer held a 2.23 ERA over his final 15 appearances in 2021. With his velocity up in 2022, it’s looking like he might take things to another level.

Closing Time

Camilo Doval closed out the Giants’ two-run victory over the Brewers with ease on Monday, picking up one strikeout in a 1-2-3 frame. He now has a team-high four saves, twice as many as Jake McGee, who served up a game-tying solo home run in the eighth inning of this one (but was credited with the win). Doval was roughed up on Opening Day but has reeled off seven scoreless appearances since then. He looks like manager Gabe Kapler’s preferred choice for saves.

Giovanny Gallegos was tagged for four runs in blowing a save against the Mets on Monday. He nearly got out of the ninth unscathed, but Nolan Arenado misfired a throw which could have gone for the game’s last out and instead resulted in a run. The tying and go-ahead runs scored when Gallegos failed to cover first base in time and he was charged with another run after being pulled. Edwin Diaz then came on a notched a save while picking up a couple strikeouts.

Tuesday’s Matchup of the Day

Daulton Jefferies (OAK) vs. Carlos Rodon (SF)

Rodon has come out of the gates on fire looking like the guy who was dominant for the bulk of last season. He’s allowed just two measly runs on eight hits and six walks while striking out a league-leading 29 over 17 innings of work covering three starts. Given the state of the A’s offense, we should probably put this one on no-hitter watch before first pitch. Jefferies, though, has been awfully good in his own right, matching Rodon with only two earned runs allowed (three total). He’s done it differently with just nine strikeouts over 15 1/3 frames, but Jefferies gives himself a chance in large part due to his superb control.

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American League Quick Hits: Michael Lorenzen walked four but still tossed six shutout frames Monday in a win over the Guardians. … Kyle Tucker went 3-for-4 with an RBI and stolen base on Monday against the Rangers. … Jose Berrios was charged with two runs over seven-plus frames in a no-decision versus the Red Sox. … Nathan Eovaldi fanned five while holding the Blue Jays to two runs in seven innings on Monday. … Lourdes Gurriel Jr. homered and doubled versus the Red Sox on Monday. … Cavan Biggio has landed on the COVID-19 IL. … Steven Kwan (hamstring) was not in the Guardians’ lineup Monday. … J.D. Martinez (groin) had a double in one of his plate appearances in his return to action Monday. … Hyun Jin Ryu (forearm) will throw live batting practice this week and could begin a rehab assignment after that. … Teoscar Hernandez (oblique) will take live BP this week. … Brandon Marsh (illness) missed a second straight start Monday but is expected back in there Tuesday.

National League Quick Hits: An MRI and CT scan taken Monday on Jacob deGrom‘s right shoulder showed “considerable healing of the stress reaction on his scapula.” He has not been cleared to throw yet but can begin strengthening exercises. … Eddie Rosario could miss an estimated 8-12 weeks following a procedure this week to correct blurred vision and swelling in his right eye. … Bryce Harper will test his right elbow Tuesday during a pre-game workout in Philadelphia. … The Phillies optioned Bryson Stott to Triple-A Lehigh Valley prior to Monday’s game. … Anthony DeSclafani is expected to be sidelined a few weeks after an MRI confirmed inflammation in his right ankle. … Mike Yastrzemski has been placed on the COVID-19 injured list. … Taijuan Walker (shoulder) threw a simulated game Monday and is slated to rejoin the Mets’ rotation this weekend. … The Diamondbacks have designated Oliver Perez for assignment.