Mikolas grew up in Jupiter, Florida as a fan of the Marlins. Jupiter is where the Marlins have spring training.
After pitching for Jupiter High School, Miles played through his junior year at Nova Southeastern University in South Florida, where he ranked fourth all-time with 167 career strikeouts and fifth with 32 games started.
In 2009, Mikolas got drafted by the Padres (see Transactions).
In 2012, Baseball America rated Mikolas as the 16th-best prospect in the Padres organization. They had him at #25 in the spring of 2013.
THE LIZARD KING
To square up on clubhouse dues, Miles accepted the $250 dare waged by Padres teammates and downed a live lizard, swallowing it with a large gulp of cold Mountain Dew. It went almost-viral on YouTube.
Mikolas said, "We were joking around in the bullpen and one thing led to another and there was some money on the line so … you know. I’m a little bit fearless. Even eating a lizard won’t turn me away. Hopefully, I can open their eyes a little bit more.”
Mikolas is also known as "Lizard King." And it's not because he's a huge Doors fan. No, it's because he ate an actual live lizard while in the Arizona Fall League as a member of the Padres. And he washed it down with a Mountain Dew.
Miles pitched for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan for three years, posting a great 31-13 record with a 2.18 ERA ion 62 starts.
The last time Miles pitched in the Majors, then-Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux helped send him on a path that has come full circle. After spending three years in Japan, Mikolas is set to start the 2018 season in the Cardinals' rotation, with Maddux as his pitching coach.
"I really like their philosophy and everything they're all about here," Mikolas said. "I think they scouted me pretty heavily over there, you know, they've got some great scouts over there. They're there every year and they're watching other guys, and Spring Training in my hometown, coaches I'm familiar with, great support staff, great players, great team. They kind of checked off all the boxes."
"The time we spent in Texas was brief, you know, maybe two months," Maddux said. "And just the evolution I saw in those two months, he threw a lot, it was really big overall in mechanics, how to throw the baseball, and that was really what we worked on. In his last start for the Rangers he went eight shutout, so we were getting on the right track.
"And then he went to Japan and continued to do what we worked on and he really found his niche. I think he grew up, got married, a little responsibility, has a child. That'll make you grow quickly and I think that's what Miles has done. He's grown as a man and as a person and he's carried that onto the baseball field." (Farrell - mlb.com - 3/27/18)
Miles' wife, Lauren, spent the 2015-17 baseball seasons in Japan with her husband, They were married in January, 2015.
"We had been on our honeymoon for just two days when his agent reached out with the prospect of a job across the Pacific," Lauren Mikolas said. "And he said, 'I need to know in 24 hours, so call me back.'
"The move meant quitting my job as a teacher. But we found ourselves saying yes, again, to a new adventure.
"In Japan, they're fascinated by anything in the 'now' of pop culture. And I, apparently, was having a moment. It seemed every week I was calling to tell my family about a new opportunity. UFC ring girl. Under Armour women's ambassador. A Japanese publisher turned my blog, 'Fearless Charm,' into a book.
"I became a spokesperson for health supplements produced by a Japanese company. I went on Japanese TV shows," Lauren said.
July 2018: Miles was selected to play in the MLB All-Star game.
July 18-21, 2018: Miles was on the paternity list.
Oct 11, 2019: There's a special reality that baseball players have that the rest of us don't: They're big-time television stars. Think about it. It doesn't even matter if the player actually IS a "star" in the obvious sense of the term. Merely playing on an MLB team means he's on TV every now and then. In his children's minds, that means he's friends with SpongeBob SquarePants and those cute little dogs who ride around like firemen and the police -- "PAW Patrol," I think it's called?
Anyway. Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas is the star of his household, and he had a big assignment ahead of him. Sure, he was pitching in NLCS Game 1 against the Nats at Busch Stadium, but he was also pitching in front of a very demanding fan: His daughter, Lilly.
All the Mikolas kids were clued-in to what their dad had in front of him on the evening. And it worked, as he picked up seven strikeouts on the evening. Lilly's a great coach.
Mikolas and the Cardinals lost the game, 2-0, but that's not the most important thing to Lilly. Dad did what she wanted him to do, when she demanded it. So, it's basically a win anyway.
Miles Mikolas is a man of the people. He wears stirrups, has a bitchin’ mustache, and loves breakfast food. Not just any breakfast food, though. According to an interview with KMOX Mikolas for the gut-busting, hangover curing delicacy that can only be found at one place: Waffle House. (Jan. 2020)
June 2009: Miles was the Padres 7th round pick, out of Nova Southeastern University, an NCAA Division II program in Davie, Florida. Rob Sidwell is the scout who inked Miles to a $125,000 contract.
November 25, 2013: The Pirates sent OF Alex Dickerson to the Padres, acquiring Mikolas and Jaff Decker.
December 30, 2013: The Rangers sent 1B Chris McGuiness to the Pirates, acquiring Miles.
Dec 5, 2017: The Cardinals signed free agent Mikolas after he pitched successfully in Japan for several years. He received $15.5 million for a two-year contract.
Feb 26, 2019: Three days after signing Jose Martinez to an extension, the Cards finalized a four-year extension for Mikolas that will run through the 2023 season. The four-year contract, worth $68 million, will begin after Mikolas’ current two-year deal for $15.5 million expires in the fall.
The deal includes full no-trade protection and an escalator clause that could add $2 million in total value if Mikolas throws 200 innings this season.
|Home:||N/A||Team:||CARDINALS - IL|
|Birth City:||Jupiter, FL|
|Draft:||Padres #7 - 2008 - Out of Nova Southeastern Univ. (FL)|
Mikolas has two plus pitches: a 91-96 mph FASTBALL and a hard downer 74-77 mph 12-to-6 CURVEBALL that features tight rotation. He also has an 87-88 mph power SLIDER that he learned from Round Rock pitching coach Brad Holman in 2014. He lacks feel for his CHANGEUP.
Miles' heater doesn't have much life, so a good hitter can turn it around if it catches too much of the plate. But his hammer curve keeps hitters uneasy. The key for him: get that big curve in the strike zone.
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 26.6% of the time, his Sinker 22%; Change 4.2%; Slider 25.8%; and Curve 21.4% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 94.7 mph, Sinker 94.1, Change 89.1, Slider 88.6 , and Curve 79 mph.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 27.6% of the time, his Sinker 23.9%; Change 3.5%; Slider 23.6%; and Curve 21.5% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 94 mph, Sinker 93.7, Change 88.1, Slider 87.2, and Curve 78.6 mph.
Miles made his Major League debut on May 5, 2012, coming out of the Padres' bullpen to face the Marlins, his favorite team while growing up in Jupiter, Florida, where the Marlins have spring training.
Mikolas' debut ended better than it started. He served up a solo homer to Giancarlo Stanton, the first batter he faced, before walking Gaby Sanchez and retiring the next three batters. He struck out John Buck and Jose Reyes.
“Could have went better, could have went worse,” said Mikolas, who attended Jupiter High School. “I settled down and made some really good pitches there toward the end. One bad pitch. Right after he hit the home run I was like, ‘Well, you know, there it is. Welcome to the Major Leagues. Gotta get outs.’”
2016-18 Improvements : Mikolas used to throw a four-seamer, two-seamer, curveball, slider and changeup, the same repertoire that he features to this day. That’s where the similarities end. Mikolas 1.0 pitched out of the stretch at all times.
That could have come from his history as a reliever, or as an effort to simplify his delivery, but it’s a significant difference from Mikolas 2.0, who uses a full windup with no one on base. He also used to set up on the extreme first-base side of the rubber; now he’s more or less right down the middle.
The next difference isn’t quite so obvious, but it’s just as important. Old Mikolas threw almost straight over the top. He still has a high release point, partially because he’s 6’ 5” — but his arm is further away from his body, closer to a three-quarters angle when he delivers the pitch. (May, 2018)
July 15, 2019: Mikolas used the 2019 All-Star break to reset and compare video from last season as he tried to find the culprit for his mediocre first half.
What did he find? His balance on his delivery was off. He was falling to the first-base side too much. That made his breaking ball stay up in the zone -- his slider has been hammered for five home runs this season compared to one last year.
“As soon as I came back and started playing catch in the All-Star break, just really focusing on keeping my head steady and letting my body work around my head,” Mikolas said. “Keeping everything toward the plate, and then carry that to the bullpen session, then out to the game.”
Jan 20, 2020: This 2020 season, Miles Mikolas is hoping to be the pitcher that he was two years ago by refocusing his slider. After an inconsistent 2019, where the righty went 9-14 with a 4.16 ERA across 32 starts and 184 innings, Mikolas did a deep dive on his mechanics, pitch shape, usage location and more in hopes of finding what went into his struggles of last season.
What he found was a mix of league adjustment -- Mikolas was entering his second year in the Majors after a stint in Japan -- and what had become an ineffective slider. According to Statcast, Mikolas gave up eight of his 27 home runs off his slider in 2019 compared to one in '18, when he had a 2.83 ERA.
Mikolas said at one point in the season that he made a concerted effort to make his slider look more like a traditional slider instead of the shorter, cutter-like pitch it looked like in 2018.
“I think that’s actually a more effective shape of that pitch, working off my other pitches,” Mikolas said. “I think that was just -- I kind of shot myself in the foot there and made a pitch that was pretty effective much less so.” (A Rogers - MLB,com - Jan 20, 2020)
- Feb 14, 2020: Residing in his hometown of Jupiter every offseason has its perks for Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas, such as training at the Cardinals' facility and not having to travel once Spring Training starts. But as the offseason goes on, Mikolas just wants his teammates to join him, so they can get the season started.
“I’ve been down here in Jupiter waiting for everybody to get here,” he said. “Now all my friends are back. And we can hit the ground running.”
That’s exactly what Mikolas plans to do this season as he enters the first year of the four-year contract extension he signed with St. Louis last spring. After last year’s Opening Day start, a gig earned after an All-Star year in 2018, the 31-year-old will once again be looked at as a steady piece in the Cardinals rotation.
Mikolas' 2019 wasn't exactly the year he'd envisioned, posting a 4.16 ERA across 32 starts and 184 innings, but after a deep dive this offseason into what went wrong, he’s aiming for a season more like 2018, when he had a 2.83 ERA in 32 starts.
Mikolas looked at his mechanics, pitch shape, location and more this offseason, and what he found was a mix of league adjustment -- last year was his second year with the Cardinals after three seasons pitching in Japan -- and what had become somewhat of an ineffective slider. Eight of the 27 home runs Mikolas allowed in 2019 came off his slider, compared to just one in '18, according to Statcast.
He also lost some velocity on the pitch -- 87 mph in ’19 compared to 88 mph in ’18. And despite producing similar swing-and-miss results, it was hammered when put into play. Opposing hitters posted a .480 slugging percentage on the pitch last season, compared to a .245 slugging percentage in 2018. The home run-heavy season surely played a role in that, but Mikolas also said he changed the shape of the pitch in the spring last year to stay ahead of the league adjustment he knew might come.
“I was trying to add some more break to it, and it made it a little bit slower and gave it a different shape,” Mikolas said. “In an effort to make something better and constantly improve, I kind of shot myself in the foot and made it worse, is what the numbers would say.”
Numbers aside, Mikolas didn’t like the way it complemented and worked off his other pitches. Later in the season, he started locating it better and put an emphasis on shaping the pitch as he had in 2018. From there, he felt like the results improved.
“Sometimes you’ll see more of a cutter,” pitching coach Mike Maddux said about Mikolas’ slider. “Depends on what he wants out of it. Either horizontal movement or vertical movement, so it’s kind of a weapon to both righties and lefties. Once he honed in on the location, that’s where you got the results he was looking for and then got better as the season went on.”
The way he finished the season, as well as his postseason performance (two earned runs in 12 innings), left Mikolas encouraged for 2020 -- and reminded him to trust in the stuff that made him a fixture in the Cardinals' rotation in the first place.
“When people make the adjustment to you, start to swing early in the count with certain pitches, certain times, you have to figure out what that adjustment looks like without straying too far from your strength,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “We always work off our position of strength. I think he went through that process of what that looks like and is on the other side of it.” (A Rogers - MLB.com - Feb 14, 2020)
- At the start of the 2020 season, Mikolas' career record was 31-24 with a 3.82 ERA. He had allowed 55 home runs and 475 hits in 476 innings in his Major League career.
July 21, 2013: Mikolas was on the D.L. with a right elbow strain.
August 24-September 1, 2013: Miles was on the D.L.
June 7, 2019: Miles Mikolas was lifted after pitching four innings in the 3-1 loss to the Cubs due to a right forearm contusion. Mikolas took a hard liner from David Bote on his right elbow in the bottom of the fourth inning. He recovered, found the ball and recorded the out at first.
“Little tight, little sore,” Mikolas said. “I don’t think it’ll be anything that hampers me going forward.” “[It was on] the good, meaty part of my bone,” Mikolas said. “No breaks, no chips, no cracks, just a good swelling.”
Mikolas' forearm swelled and bruised enough that manager Mike Shildt decided to take him out of the game.
- Feb. 18, 2020: Mikolas had a second platelet-rich plasma injection to treat his right flexor tendon strain. As a result, his season will be delayed by at least a month.
April 2, 2020: Miles (strained right forearm) is continuing to play catch and is up to 120 feet. He’s scheduled to throw a light bullpen session soon.