Cardinals hoping to stop slide against Rockies

Field Level Media

When the St. Louis Cardinals signed Miles Mikolas to a four-year contract extension worth $68 million in February, it was with the hope he would anchor the Cardinals' rotation.

It hasn't worked out quite that way, but the right-hander has shown flashes of his stellar 2018 campaign that earned him the offseason deal. Mikolas was 18-4 with a 2.83 ERA and tied for wins in the NL last season, a heralded return to the majors after a three-year stint in Japan.

Mikolas hasn't been able to duplicate the success this year, going 8-13 with a 4.25 ERA, but if he continues to pitch like he has in his last three starts he could be a valuable piece should St. Louis hold on and reach the postseason for the first time since 2015.

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He will try to build on his success when the Cardinals wrap up a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies in Denver on Thursday afternoon. Mikolas will face Colorado journeyman and feel-good story Tim Melville in the get-away game.

The Rockies won the first two games of the series by identical 2-1 scores.

Mikolas has been streaky, going a stretch of games where he has held opponents in check followed by a string of bad outings. The latest came in August when he allowed 16 runs -- 15 earned -- in 16 innings over a three-start span. But he followed that up by beating Milwaukee, giving up one run on four hits over six innings and added 10 strikeouts.

He is winless in two September starts but has fanned 12 in 11 combined innings with a 3.27 ERA. He's aware that every time he takes the ball he has a chance to prove himself.

"As a pitcher or as a hitter, a position player, you never know when you are going to have your most important moment of the season, your most important pitch, your most important at bat," Mikolas told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "So it's just be 100 percent ready and be ready to take advantage of every opportunity when it comes."

He is looking for his first win against Colorado, a team he has faced five times -- three of those starts -- and has a 6.05 ERA in those appearances. In his most recent game against the Rockies he allowed five runs over six innings in an Aug. 22 St. Louis win.

Melville was working in a barbecue restaurant in the offseason before joining the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League. The Rockies signed him to a minor league deal in May and recalled him from Triple-A in late August to fill out an injury-plagued rotation.

He won his Colorado debut and has gone 2-1 with 3.66 ERA in four starts. He has faced the Cardinals just once in his career, giving up seven runs -- six earned -- in three innings in a start for Cincinnati on April 15, 2016.

Melville is more measured than when he first made it to the majors.

"The first few times I was up in the big leagues, it was definitely the bright lights and big stadiums that affected me," Melville said recently. "Since I've had a taste of that, I haven't really experienced that (awe) so far this time around. I'm enjoying the moment pitch-to-pitch right now."

--Field Level Media

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