Giants Cardinals Baseball

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Miles Mikolas throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, in St. Louis. 

JUPITER, Fl. ( -- Cardinals manager Mike Shildt announced Saturday that Miles Mikolas would start Opening Day for the Cardinals when they take on the Brewers in a road game March 28.

"It's a recognition of last year," Shildt said. "It's completely well-deserved, we're really, really happy for him. It's quite an honor especially based on the staff that we have, so he's going to be our lead guy to start the season, and it's well, well-deserved."

Mikolas had a marvelous debut season in St. Louis, leading the pitching staff with a record of 18-4 and a 2.83 ERA in 32 starts. Even with those sterling numbers, one of the most impressive factors in Mikolas' season was the amount of innings he logged, performing as the only Cardinals' starter to eclipse 200 innings pitched last season.

While St. Louis certainly liked what they saw in Mikolas when the team signed him out of Japan last winter, not even the Cardinals anticipated the kind of season he produced in 2018.

"A year ago right now, saying that Miles would have been our Opening Day starter this year would have been a shock to everyone,"GM Mike Girsch said Saturday. "But he pitched amazing last year, he's been a great influence on the clubhouse. He's just a happy guy to have around and it's nice that he's going to be getting the Opening Day start."

Mikolas is set to become a free agent after the season, and because of his impact of the club, it would make sense for the Cardinals to consider working out an extension with the Jupiter, Florida native.

"We've talked about that, that's something that we'll look into," Girsch said, noting the team does not discuss such matters publicly. "But yeah, it's certainly a possibility."

Shildt did not specify a starter for the Cardinals home opener, which comes Thursday, April 4 against Manny Machado and the Padres. The home opener is the Cardinals seventh game of the regular season, and with an off-day in the middle of a two-game second series of the year against Pittsburgh, it's conceivable the Cardinals could re-order their rotation slightly to set up the home opener how they'd like.

"I wouldn't say that's the case, it's a factor, but I wouldn't say that's the motivating factor," Shildt said of lining up a starter for the home opener possibly impacting their ordering of the rotation the first time through. "But it is part of the conversation, yes."

Mikolas will also open up Grapefruit League play as the Cardinals starter Saturday afternoon against Miami at Roger Dean Stadium.

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