Allen Craig has passed whatever tests he needed to pass, because Cardinals manager Mike Matheny announced that the injured first baseman will be on the World Series roster after not playing since September 4 due to a foot injury.
Craig has been hitting for a while now, but the issue is whether his foot will allow him to run well enough to make a pinch-runner unnecessary. And it’s unclear if he’ll be more than a pinch-hitting option during the games in St. Louis without a designated hitter.
Either way, considering the weakness of the Cardinals’ bench getting Craig back at even a fraction of his healthy self will help. He hit .315 with 13 homers and an .830 OPS in 134 games during the regular season, including ridiculous numbers with runners in scoring position.
Matt Adams has hit .268 with one homer and a .724 OPS in 11 playoff games subbing for Craig at first base.
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.