Coming into yesterday's game against the Milwaukee Brewers, the St. Louis Cardinals had a few questions. Those inquiries had a lot to do with their offseason decisions and misses, factors that could determine a playoff appearance or third straight miss. The questions were simple ones:
*Could Miles Mikolas translate the success he found overseas to the States?
*Should the Cardinals have pushed hard for Christian Yelich instead of Marcell Ozuna?
*Did the Cardinals make a mistake in passing up a trade for Lorenzo Cain?
Baseball is pretty good at providing quick answers. Let's look at the five takeaways from the 8-4 win over the Brewers.
5) Jordan Hicks is really good at making MLB hitters look silly. Think about it from the victim's perspective. The kid can throw 102 miles-per-hour and then bring it down to 82-86 with a changeup while mixing in a slider. Oh, the fastball has some sink to it as well. What Hicks offers a hitter is illegal in 50 off-road baseball fields, but in the Majors, it's the difference between a broom stick and a soft slap in the face. He only needed 17 pitches to get four outs. I sincerely hope Mike Matheny doesn't take a torch to Hicks' arm this month. Don't damage the goods, Michael.
4) Mikolas fared well, if not great, in his first outing. Rule of thumb for all starters: cranking a two-run homer to help your cause can take some of the stink of allowing three home runs away. Mikolas has good movement on a variety of pitches, but I really like the curveball. If he can drop that hammer after locating one of his heaters, the opposition will hate him this season. He will get tagged for long balls, but going 5.2 innings in a launching pad like Miller Park should be a quality start. The zero walks carried the second-highest sex appeal from the righty's first start as a Cardinal.
3) Paul DeJong won't stop. I have a feeling when columnists around town were touting the adventures of Jose Martinez and how he hasn't stopping collecting bases since last summer, DeJong was whispering, "check me out". DeJong saved his best hits last season for August and September, putting to rest doubts about his ability to adjust. He's got the jump on pitchers this year with the three home runs, all no-doubt bombs. He'll cost the Cardinals an average of $4.3 million throughout his six-year contract.
I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit.
— Dexter Fowler #25 (@DexterFowler) April 2, 2018
2) Dexter Fowler wished for it on Twitter and saw it granted in reality. After typing "I will get a hit" 13 times in a tweet, a dying quail shot into center field brought the right-fielder his first hit of 2018. Fowler's production will only force Matheny to not mess with the lineup card that much, so I'm hoping he keeps it up. He brings power, on-base percentage, and an ability to make the pitcher work to the table.
1) Jedd Gyorko collects two hits and an RBI, but then strains his hamstring. Following Luke Gregerson and Adam Wainwright, this is the third hamstring-related injury this year. Remember when 2015 was the curse of the quadriceps with Matt Holliday injuring it twice and Matt Adams coming up hurt as well? 2018 may be the curse of the other side of the upper leg. Gyorko being out does give Martinez an open window to keep hitting. Speaking of the Venezuela native, Martinez went hitless on Monday, yet still drove in a run.
Bonus takeaway: Ozuna went 1-5 while Yelich was 0-4 with two strikeouts. Full disclosure: I don't think the Marlins were going to deal Yelich before Ozuna, but it's still going to be fun comparing these two all season, sort of like comparing Mikolas to Tyler Chatwood with the Chicago Cubs. Lorenzo Cain hit a home run off Mikolas, so there was that.
The Cardinals are 2-2, and 2-0 in games where a great pitcher doesn't oppose them. The fact that the team got to Noah Syndergaard for four runs on Thursday is somehow forgotten. The lineup has picked up steam and the pitching is slowly coming into form. Granted, it would be lovely to see starter finish six innings, but there are 158 games left to see that happen.
Maybe Jack Flaherty, tonight's starter, can produce the first gem of the season for the rotation.
Thanks for reading,