Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com that veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran began experiencing tightness in his lower back near the end of Saturday’s loss to the Pirates and will not be in the starting lineup for Sunday afternoon’s series finale at PNC Park.
The back tightness is not a serious concern.
Beltran is batting .310/.343/.522 with 23 home runs and 71 RBI in 122 games this season. He owns an .853 OPS (132 OPS+), 55 home runs and 168 RBI in 273 games since agreeing to a bargain two-year, $26 million contract before the start of the 2012 campaign.
The Cardinals currently trail the Pirates by one game in the National League Central standings.
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.