St. Louis Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright hasn’t had the start to this season that a top-of-the-rotation guy should command. Is there real reason for concern or will the bueno Waino appear soon?
After having suffered the loss of Adam Wainwright in 2015 to an Achilles injury, the St. Louis Cardinals had looked to this year as a secure year with Waino leading the rotation as the cards broke camp. Now, through almost four series contests this season, Wainwright has yet to produce at top-of-the-rotation caliber. Should we sound the alarms?
Wainwright pitched only seven games in 2015 but was his usual, impressive, killer arm in those seven games. In all of his appearance in 2015 (more on this later), Waino produced a 2-1 record and a 1.61 ERA. He pitched 28 innings and accumulated 20 strikeouts accounting for a 1.04 WHIP.
Disaster struck in April (almost an exact year ago; April 25 to be exact) in Milwaukee when Waino left the batter’s box to run to first, and… Pop!
On April 30, 2015, Wainwright underwent surgery to repair the Achilles and doctors suggested that his season had come to an end. Waino, the always-fighting pitcher, spent the season rehabbing and adding strength vowing to return to action. On September 30, 2015, just five months after surgery, Waino was activated and
On September 30, 2015, just five months after surgery, Waino was activated and returned to action against the Pirates on that date. In his one inning appearance on this date, Wainwright allowed one run on two hits. His appearance was exciting for fans and surprising for doctors who had predicted a healing time of 9-12 months following surgery.
Did Wainwright come back too soon? In his brief appearances after his return, Wainwright seemed to have decent enough stuff. In October 2015, Wainwright faced Atlanta twice, pitching one inning in each game. In these appearances from the pen, he surrendered no hits, no runs, one walk, and one strikeout.
In the 2015 postseason, Wainwright appeared from the pen for the birds on the bat across 5.1 innings in three games all against the baby bears. In these, he allowed one run across three hits (one home run) while walking none and striking out six. His postseason ERA was 1.69.
Fast-forward, if you will, to the 2016 spring when hopes were high that the Cardinals would have a complete season with their perennial ace. In spring, Wainwright showed minor signs of concern. In his four appearances, Wainwright pitched fifteen total innings, allowing eight runs on nineteen hits (one home run). His command was in question
His command was in question this spring wherein he allowed six walks to eleven strikeouts. His spring ERA finished at 4.80 which was incredible no bueno for Waino. His spring WHIP finished at 1.67, the highest recorded WHIP in his career stats.
Fans and the team alike tried severely to shake off the rust of spring as the season began trying to hold onto the promise of having the ace return. This hope seems to be fading fast. Let’s look at Adam’s three starts so far.
Wainwright “won” the starting job to kick-off the 2016 season (“won” used here more likely as default) against the Pirates. In the extremely cold weather of Pittsburgh, Waino managed to ink only six innings in which he allowed three runs on six hits walking three and striking out three.
To his detriment, the offense in the game froze with the weather. This game’s WHIP finished at 1.50 and Adam took the first loss of his season.
Wainwright’s next appearance came in the Atlanta series against a team that the Cardinals were beating fairly easily. As easily as the Cardinals were finding hitting and scoring against Atlanta, the Braves hitters found Wainwright’s material. In only five innings, Adam allowed five runs on six hits while walking five and striking out two.
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Command was in question in the contest against Atlanta as it seemed to have been as well in spring. Waino’s attempt against Atlanta netted a 1.82 WHIP. Another troubling stat from this game was the fact that, like in spring appearances, Wainwright allowed a home run.
Following this appearance, Wainwright reported no pains and simply said that he anticipated getting better and finding his stuff. This has not yet seemed to come to fruition.
Yesterday, Wainwright made his third appearance of the 2016 season against the Cincinnati Reds. Not able to make it to his opening performance of six innings, Wainwright completed only 5.1 innings in yesterday’s game allowing seven runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out two. Alarm bells?
Prior to yesterday’s game, Wainwright appealed to fans for patience and attempted to reassure us all:
Should we believe him? In 2012, Wainwright started the season even worse than he is this season. Through April 2012, Adam owned a 7.32 ERA through 19.2 innings (1.47 WHIP). After this rocky start, he righted the ship and posted a May ERA of 3.00, a June ERA of 5.21 (a bump), a July ERA of 2.76, and finished the season with an ERA of 3.94.
2013 saw a similar up and down season. Wainwright started the 2013 campaign better than 2012, but had up and down months throughout. He started the season with an April ERA of 2.03, then moved to May and posted a 3.03 ERA, a June 1.77 ERA, a July 3.77 ERA, an August ERA of 4.78, and finished the season with an overall ERA of 2.94.
In each of these seasons, Wainwright is still remembered as an ace. He also showed in these campaigns a fight-to-the-finish spirit and one that he proves to work for success. So, should it be the same this season?
I feel that, while alarmed at how these contests have gone thus far, we should listen- at least for the interim time- to Wainwright and practice patience along with him. Luckily for him, his next contest is against the very quiet Padres. Perhaps facing them will the penicillin to his illness.