Milwaukee Brewers: Miles Mikolas for the starting rotation?

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 25: Starter Miles Mikolas
SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 25: Starter Miles Mikolas /

Miles Mikolas left the US for Japan in 2015. Mikolas struggled to earn a role with a Major League club, and signed with the Yomiuri Giants of the NPB. He’s set to return to the US after three years abroad. Could he end up as the Milwaukee Brewers fourth or fifth starter next year? It’s not impossible

After three years in the NPB, Miles Mikolas has made it known that he wants to return to the US. He should find a job in a Major League rotation, but the question is where? The Milwaukee Brewers need to fill out the back of their rotation and Mikolas should fit their price range.

How did Mikolas do with Yomiuri?

He was fantastic. After toiling for Minor League teams and getting the occasional cup of coffee at the Major League level, Mikolas joined the Giants in 2015. He only posted a sub-2.00 ERA in 145 innings in his first season at Japan’s highest level. After his first season, he signed a two-year deal to Giants that earned him $5 million. He continued his success in 2016 with 2.45 ERA in 14 starts with 84 strikeouts and 23 walks. Mikolas also succeeded in 2017 by posting a 2.25 ERA in 27 starts and racking up 187 strikeouts in 188 innings of work.

Why should the Brewers have any interest in Mikolas?

Well, he wasn’t your typical gaijin in Japan. His first year in Japan was his age-26 season. He doesn’t turn 30 until next August. Most guys who leave the US for Japan have a few more years on them than Mikolas did. He flashed excellent control in his first few years in the Minor Leagues, but it didn’t translate to the upper Minors or Major League level. He found elite control in Japan and posted a 1.5 BB/9 during his three season there.

What’s the track record of pitchers who return from Asia?

There isn’t a huge sample size to go by, but the recent returns have been solid. Colby Lewis was a highly thought of prospect who flamed out in the Majors and resurrected his career in Japan. More recently, Tony Barnette returned after six seasons abroad, and found success. Also, Milwaukee Brewers reliever Carlos Torres spent his 2011 season with Yomiuri. He made six starts before getting released, but he’s found success since.

Next: Could CC return to Milwaukee?

Mikolas is far from a lock to succeed, but he has an impressive track record and the Milwaukee Brewers would be wise to kick the tires on him. He wants to return to the US and will likely have to take a short term deal at less than the going rate for established Major League starting pitchers. He’s a low risk / high reward signing who could pay dividends for the Brewers if they’re in on him.