Morning Read: No need to panic about Adam Wainwright’s injury just yet


On Sunday morning, the St. Louis Cardinals placed starting pitcher Adam Wainwright on the 15-day disabled list with an Achilles related injury. According to a tweet from FOX Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal, this latest setback could be season ending.

This situation sounds familiar enough, right? Even though Wainwright missed the entire 2011 season with Tommy John surgery, the Cardinals squeaked into the postseason with 90 wins, working their way up from a NL Wild Card birth to their eleventh World Series title in franchise history.

It’s too early to tell if this current roster will perform above expectations or regress without their three-time All Star on the mound in the foreseeable future. However, the Cardinals are arguably in a better position to suffer a loss to their staff than most teams considering St. Louis’s early successes with the starting rotation, the team’s ability to overcome injuries in recent years and Wainwright’s past track record of injuries.

St. Louis’s starting rotation has already tossed 12 quality starts in the first 17 games, with every starting pitcher besides John Lackey sporting an ERA below 4.00. While these numbers will be difficult to replicate throughout the course of a 162-game season, this early success demonstrates how a younger rotation is currently embracing early season obstacles.

More from Adam Wainwright

This type of pressure has already allowed Michael Wacha to improve his approach, who has collected three victories against highly-touted pitchers Johnny Cueto and Max Scherzer after battling injuries last year.  Carlos Martinez has also tossed at least six innings in each of his three first starts and after   could make a transition similar to Lance Lynn when he was converted to a full-time starter in 2012.

Additionally, the Cardinals have consistently found ways to win amidst major injuries in recent history. St. Louis experienced more than ten players landing on the disabled list last season, but maintained enough ground in the standings to take over the NL Central division lead by September 1.

When Wainwright suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in 2011, the Cardinals tested Kyle McClellan, Brandon Dickson and several others pitchers within the organization. Currently holding a two-game lead for first place in the division, St. Louis is already in a better position to grind out injury losses compared to the team that had to overcome a 10.5 game deficit in late August four years ago.

The Cardinals are arguably in a better position to suffer a loss to their staff than most teams considering St. Louis’s early successes with the starting rotation.

Wainwright flew back to St. Louis before Sunday’s game and will soon receive an MRI on his Achilles injury, which is far from the first stint he’s experienced in his 10 seasons with the Cardinals. The 33 year-old has missed a handful of starts between various concerns, including a sprained pitching finger in 2008, Tommy John surgery in 2011 and a hyperextended knee last year.

Although Wainwright has collected 121 career victories with the Cardinals, fans could argue that his full potential has been halted due to injury. Wainwright was limited to just three starts in 2015 Spring Training due to abdominal issues, and it is possible that some lingering pains may have carried over to his latest setback.

Online reactions toward this injury have been sporadic, as some baseball writers have suggested the idea of allowing a designated hitter in the National League. While it’s unfortunate that a prominent pitcher suffered a severe injury in a secondary role, accidents are a natural part of the game and one incident shouldn’t cause a designated hitter change otherwise.

Meanwhile other websites have hinted that the Cardinals might make an effort to acquire Cole Hamels following Wainwright’s injury. But after unloading Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller and a few other pitching prospects within the last year, it would be wise for the Cardinals to remain patient and hold on to a few coveted farmhands.

Prior to Saturday’s injury, Wainwright’s next probable start was slated for this Thursday against the Philadelphia Phillies. But for now the Cardinals will likely roll the dice with internal options. Marco Gonzales would be the primary candidate to fill in once he fully recovers from a minor league disabled list stint, but Carlos Villanueva or Tyler Lyons may also receive some spot starts in upcoming weeks to supplement for the loss of Wainwright.