Baseball loves its history and its numbers, the good, the bad and the ugly. Much to Mike Mayers’ chagrin, he made history with some ugly numbers on this date – July 24 – two years ago. In his big league debut for St. Louis, the former Ole Miss standout allowed nine runs on eight hits – two of them homers — plus two walks in 1 1/3 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers. That’s an ERA of 60.90. It was statistically the worst debut ever for a pitcher, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Mayers became the first player to allow nine or more earned runs in fewer than two innings in his first appearance since earned runs became a stat in 1912. From that humbling start, Mayers has evolved into a fairly reliable reliever for the Cardinals. In 29 appearances this season, the right-hander – who hits the upper 90s on the gun – has a 3.86 ERA, a 2-1 record and a save. He was up and down from Triple-A numerous times in the season’s first two months, but he has stuck since his June 8 recall and carved out a role in the bullpen. New Cards manager Mike Shildt, who took over July 15, has gone to Mayers in key situations. It’d be only fitting for Mayers to get into today’s game at Cincinnati, an anniversary gift of sorts. Baseball also loves that kind of thing.
Meanwhile, back in St. Louis, there’s Mike Mayers, picking up a win for the Cardinals, the beneficiary of a five-run ninth inning capped by Yairo Munoz’s walk-off homer that beat Pittsburgh 10-8 on Thursday night. Former Ole Miss star Mayers is 2-0 with a 2.40 ERA in 11 relief appearances for the Cards. Funny thing is, those 11 appearances are spread over six different stints with St. Louis. Mayers, who first made the big leagues in 2016, still has options. What that means is, the Cardinals can option him to the minors this season as many times as they see fit. They have seen fit to do so five times. And it’s only June. Mayers was sent to Triple-A Memphis on Wednesday, joining the Redbirds in New Orleans, then was recalled on Thursday as an injury replacement and flew back to St. Louis. He entered Thursday’s game in the eighth, got the final out in that inning and worked a 1-2-3 ninth. The rally that followed may have seemed a bit like déjà vu for Mayers. His other win, on May 6, also came via a walk-off homer. After a strong winter league showing and a good spring, Mayers began the 2018 season on the Cardinals’ 25-man roster. On April 9, he was optioned to Memphis for the first time, and the shuttle run began. “If anything,” Mayers told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after Thursday’s game, “this season has taught us that baseball is crazy.”
When last we saw Mike Mayers in a big league game — for St. Louis on Aug. 18 — he was giving up four earned runs in 2/3 of an inning against Pittsburgh. That moved the Ole Miss product’s career ERA in seven appearances to 19.80, not what you wanna see on the back of your baseball card. That ugly number is due mostly to a couple of bad outings. But it is what it is. The Cardinals still have Mayers on their 40-man roster, and he has pitched well in winter ball. Through six starts for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League, Mayers is 2-1 with a 2.43 ERA. After a 12-day layoff, he threw five innings of one-hit, one-run ball on Tuesday. A third-round pick out of UM in 2013, Mayers, 25, has a career minor league ERA of 3.54. Only once in his five minor league seasons has he finished with an ERA above 3.39. He went 5-6 with a 3.28 in 2017 at Triple-A Memphis, splitting time between starting and relieving. He was up for three big league appearances, including that ERA wrecker on Aug. 18. He has to be champing at the bit for his next shot. P.S. Picayune native and Ole Miss alum Braxton Lee, the Southern League batting champ last season, recently was added to Miami’s 40-man roster, and ex-Madison Central High standout Spencer Turnbull made Detroit’s protected roster. Former UM star Bobby Wahl, who made his MLB debut with Oakland in 2017, has been removed from the A’s 40-man. Right-hander Wahl was injured (shoulder) in midseason and didn’t pitch after July 31.
Ole Miss alum Mike Mayers is slated to make his major league debut for St. Louis tonight at Busch Stadium against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yes, it’s the ESPN game. Mayers, a 6-foot-3 right-hander, was 3-3 with a 2.94 ERA at Triple-A Memphis. A third-round pick in 2013, he started this season at Double-A Springfield, going 5-2, 2.30. Mayers, who is not ranked among the Cardinals’ top 30 prospects by mlb.com, had surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome in 2015.