All-Star pitches can be made in D-backs-Cards finale
PHOENIX — Like pitching?
The final game of the St. Louis-Arizona series Wednesday features a couple starters who have had strong seasons but also should be considered under-the-radar All-Star candidates, at least for those who have not been paying close attention.
You could look it up.
Arizona left-hander Patrick Corbin and St. Louis right-hander Miles Mikolas rank in the top 10 among NL qualifiers in ERA, WHIP, WAR and innings pitched. The only statistical difference is in strikeouts, where Corbin is tied for second and Mikolas is down the pack. Mikolas compensates by pitching to contact and getting the majority of his outs on the ground.
They are compatible in one more way — each has received below-average run support. Corbin has received the fourth-fewest, 3.65 per start. Mikolas’ support checks in under the league average.
Arizona used a three-run homer from Paul Goldschmidt to take a 4-2 victory Tuesday as the teams have split the first two games of the series. Arizona will conclude a 10-game homestand with a four-game set with San Diego beginning Thursday, when the Cardinals open a four-game series in San Francisco before finishing a nine-game trip in Chicago against the White Sox.
Mikolas, 29, has been perhaps the most pleasant surprise in the major leagues this season, signing with the Cardinals over the winter after three strong seasons for the Yomiuri Giants in the Japanese Central League. He was 3-13 with a 2.18 ERA in 62 starts in Japan after being released by Texas in November 2014.
“Obviously this season he’s been fantastic,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “He should be sitting on 10 wins right now. Two of the losses he had, he had us right there. He just matched up with a pitcher we couldn’t get much going against. Miles has been very good.”
Mikolas has made 11 quality starts, tied for fourth in the league. After starting the season 6-0, he has lost three of his five decisions in June despite posting five quality starts and giving up one earned run in two of his losses.
“A guy who just attacks the strike zone,” Matheny said.
“He has very good stuff. Doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. Not afraid to use his defense. He has been just an incredible surprise for us. What a great pickup for our organization and a salute to our scouts who are finding people like Miles who are out there.
“He figured something out while he was in Japan. The way he goes about his business, not just how he competes but how he prepares, you could see that being something that sticks around for awhile.”
Mikolas and Corbin are tied for second in the league in WHIP (0.99). Mikolas is sixth and Corbin ninth in ERA and innings pitched, and Mikolas is seventh and Corbin ninth in WAR.
Each has one of the five shutouts thrown in the NL this season. Washington’s Max Scherzer, Pittsburgh’s Jameson Taillon and Atlanta’s Mike Foltynewicz have the others.
Corbin, 6-3 with a 3.14 ERA, has made two straight quality starts, giving up only one run and in 13 innings, but did not receive a decision in either game. He had extra rest the last time through the rotation after pitching seven scoreless innings while striking out 12 in a no-decision at Pittsburgh, when he threw a season-high 102 pitches. He gave up one run in six innings against San Francisco on Friday, pitching on six days’ rest.
“He (gets) into trouble, doesn’t get rattled, and continues to pound the zone and get big outs. He’s done a very good job,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.
Jeff Mathis, one of two healthy catchers on the Arizona roster with Alex Avila on the disabled list, will catch Corbin for the third straight start.
“I like the way Jeff gets Patrick to do certain things at certain times and shows confidence in certain pitches, and helps him execute by showing that confidence,” Lovullo said. “Jeff has such respect from anyone on this staff that when he asks for something they listen.”
Corbin has received 3.65 runs per start, tied for the third fewest in the league. He is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in four career starts against St. Louis and is 4-3 with a 3.69 ERA in 10 starts at home this sesaon.
Mikolas, who spent previous major league seasons with San Diego and Texas, has never started against Arizona and has given one run in 4 1/3 innings in two career relief appearances, a Justin Upton homer in 2012. This will be his first appearance at Chase Field.