Astros designate Carlos Pena and Ronny Cedeno for assignment

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The Astros have designated first baseman Carlos Pena and shortstop Ronny Cedeno for assignment, reports Brian McTaggart. Shortstop prospect Jonathan Villar is being promoted from Triple-A Oklahoma City to take Cedeno’s spot on the roster. CSN Houston reports that Villar will be the team’s starting shortstop tomorrow.

Villar was acquired along with Anthony Gose and J.A. Happ from the Phillies on July 29, 2010 in the Roy Oswalt trade. In 385 trips to the plate at Triple-A, Villar posted a .786 OPS, including a marked increase in power in what has been the best season of his professional career.

Pena, known for his power, had just eight home runs in 325 plate appearances with the Astros. His .350 slugging percentage is a career low and his .324 on-base percentage is his lowest since 2002, though this isn’t all that surprising considering he is 35 years old. Cedeno had a rebirth of sorts with the Mets last year, posting a .741 OPS in 186 PA. His career average is .641, but the 30-year-old could only get to .558 this year.

Cardinals tab Miles Mikolas for Opening Day start

Miles Mikolas
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The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.

The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.

Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.