Matt Purke, who turned down signing with the Rangers as a first-round draft pick in 2009 and then got a $4 million big-league contract to sign with the Nationals as a third-round draft pick in 2011, needs Tommy John elbow surgery and will miss the remainder of the season.
Purke was initially drafted 14th overall after a standout college career at TCU, but he’s been limited to just 136 career innings due to injuries. Before being shut down this year he had an 8.04 ERA and 22/18 K/BB ratio in 31 innings at Double-A as a 23-year-old, and because of the MLB contract he received Purke will be out of minor-league options by the time he returns from surgery.
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.