Aug 22, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (50) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Image Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Wainwright, Where Art Thou?

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St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright has struggled since returning from his start in the 2014 Major League All-Star Game.

What we have seen lately from the Cardinals ace is something that should not be happening. Wainwright, who would like to win the Cy Young Award, is looking less like a Cy Young Award candidate and more like, well, I don’t know. His ERA is climbing and it will be a stretch to see if Wainwright will get the five more wins he wants to get that magic 20-win season that he would prefer. It might not mean like much now but for BBWAA voters, it will later on after his career has come to an end.

The pitcher has now started seven times since the break. In those seven starts, Wainwright has posted a 3-4 record with a 4.70 ERA. In two starts, he did not get past the sixth inning. His 1.83 ERA in the first half is Cy Young-caliber while is current 2.52 ERA, while still impressive compared to most, should be a lot lower than it is right now.

“I’m not pitching ahead in the count like I normally do,” Wainwright said according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Rick Hummel. “I don’t have blazing fastballs or electric anything, really. But I pitch ahead in the count very well usually and I get strikeouts that way.”

“But it’s just so frustrating, because I was in such a good place about halfway through the year,” Wainwright said with regards to a 20-win season. “There was no reason for me not to extend that to the end of the year. I absolutely know that I can do that. But I hit a hump, or a bump, in the road longer than I wanted to.”

I find myself in agreement with Bernie Miklasz in that Yadier Molina‘s absence behind the plate is a big reason.

Over the past two seasons, Wainwright’s ERA is 2.28 in his 339.1 innings with Molina as the catcher. And over the past two seasons, when Molina isn’t catching, Wainwright’s ERA is 4.59 in 78.1 innings. That’s a huge difference.

Molina is expected back at some point in September. The Cardinals desperately need him not just for his offensive bat but his defensive capabilities and pitch-calling from behind the plate.

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