Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
I started this little series because I wanted to talk about the incredible young pitching talent that the Cardinals have on their team. It ought to be wonderful fun, and I think the best place to start is with the current ace of the rotation: Adam Wainwright.
Wainwright is a monster of a pitcher, both in physical stature, clocking in at 6’7″ and 235 pounds; and statistical dominance, posting a 3.10 ERA with 1,127 strikeouts in 1,312.2 innings. Although he’s still searching for his first Cy Young Award, he’s led the league in innings pitched twice, and held a sub-3.00 ERA three separate times. His worst season (by far) came immediately after his Tommy John surgery, and he still managed to win 14 games and pitch nearly 200 innings.
Additionally, Wainwright has performed extraordinarily well in four postseason appearances, pitching to a 2.10 ERA with a 4-1 record and 62 strikeouts in 55,2 innings pitched.
In short, Wainwright is a workhorse. He’s an exceedingly good pitcher, and he handles pressure very well. Wisely, the Cardinals spent a little bit of cash to lock up their star pitcher through the end of the 2018 season, so he’ll be donning the birds on the bat for a little while longer.
Now, before I end this segment of my “Promising Future” series, I want to take a look at Wainwright’s strengths and weaknesses, along with where I see him at the beginning of next year, and where I see him in five years. So here it goes!
The Strengths: Just about everything in Wainwright’s arsenal is a strength. He’s a strikeout pitcher with a nasty curve ball, a good fastball, and a great little cutter. He’s also accurate, doesn’t walk many batters, and always performs very well under pressure. His strengths, as we all know, are nearly endless.
The Weaknesses: Trying to find Waino’s weaknesses is no easy task. If I had to choose one, it would be that he often struggles in the first inning before settling down, and he can still struggle some with nerves if he does give up a run or two. Granted, he generally can keep the game well within reach, but it often seems like the opposing teams never just get one. The only other thing that could even begin to count as a weakness if the fact that he’s not the very best at anything. Don’t get me wrong, he’s phenomenal at anything, but I think what will ultimately give some of the other Cardinal pitchers an edge is their mastery of one thing in particular.
In 2014: He’s the Cardinals’ number one starter, no doubt about it. He’s the ace of the rotation, and no one’s taking that away from him.
In Five Years: I think that Adam Wainwright will be wearing at least 2 or 3 more World Series rings while admiring at least 1 shiny Cy Young Award five years from now. He’ll be in the last year of his current contract, and earning himself another decent deal. Due to his experience and skill, I think that Wainwright will still be the Cardinals’ number one starter, and the go-to guy in tough situations and important playoff games. That said, I don’t think he’ll be the Cardinals best pitcher; he’ll just be the seasoned veteran tempering the other young guns in the rotation. He’ll lead a phenomenal rotation that will be mowing down hitters for many years to come.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for our ace! Look forward to the next post on Michael Wacha: I see big things in that kid’s future.