Edward Mujica is getting a break from the closer role

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Here’s something you don’t want to hear if you are a Cardinals fan. According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals closer Edward Mujica admitted yesterday that fatigue has caused him to alter his mechanics.

“My body feels like a little bit tired, and my release point is getting a little bit up,” Mujica said. “My thinking in my mind I’ve set it to get to the playoffs. One more month. Right now, I don’t want to think about (fatigue). Let’s finish it off, these nine games, and then if we make the playoffs think about the playoffs.”

Mujica has been a revelation out of the closer role for most of the season, posting a 1.73 ERA through the end of August, but he has allowed seven runs on 15 hits and two walks over 6 2/3 innings this month. He spotted the faulty mechanics during a video session yesterday, but it didn’t make an immediate impact, as he was yanked in the middle of a save chance against the Brewers. John Axford ended up bailing him out while the Cardinals won in 10 innings.

Mujica missed some time in August due to muscle tightness in his neck/back area and received anti-inflammatory medication, but Cardinals manager Mike Matheny insists that he’s healthy right now. Still, it’s clear that something isn’t right.

With a division to wrap up and the postseason rapidly approaching, this could be the time to give Trevor Rosenthal a shot in the ninth inning. The 23-year-old fireballer has a 2.73 ERA and 103/20 K/BB ratio over 72 1/3 innings this season. He ranks fourth among relievers (min. 60 IP) with 12.82 K/9.

UPDATE: ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that Mujica has been removed from the closer role for the next few days and perhaps longer.

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.