Question: Who will be the team’s Opening Day starting pitcher?
This is one of the more unimportant questions that will be addressed between now and April 2. Whether it’s Adam Wainwright or Carlos Martinez on the mound on Opening Day, both will be in the rotation. The one who doesn’t take the bump for the opener will probably be starting the second game of the season.
Wainwright has taken the hill every Opening Day the last four seasons. In total, he’s started five Opening Day games. Martinez has never started an Opening Day or begun any year higher than fifth in the rotation, for that matter. Nevertheless, he’s been the team’s most consistent starting pitcher the last two years.
Last season, Wainwright struggled and Martinez ascended to the top of the staff. Carlos is the ace of the future, but does that future begin now? Wainwright is 35, but it’s important to remember that he’s missed about two and a half full years due to various injuries in his career. He’s got innings left in the tank. The question is, how effective of a pitcher can he be in his age-35 season and beyond?
More from St Louis Cardinals News
- Cardinals Rumors: 3 pros and cons of signing Carlos Rodon
- Cardinals: Here is Willson Contreras’ first message for St. Louis fans
- How do the St. Louis Cardinals stack up with Willson Contreras?
- Cardinals: The insane asking price the Athletics had for Sean Murphy
- St. Louis Cardinals: Ask me anything with Josh Jacobs – 12/8
If the matter of Opening Day starter is based solely on merit, it has to go to Carlos Martinez. He was the team’s best pitcher last year. But Wainwright has had a successful career, and 2017 could be a turnaround year. He’s also been the staff ace and leader for years.
This question can be restated in a more methodical way: does Mike Matheny believe the Opening Day start has a component of honor to it, or does a pitcher deserve it based on merit alone? I don’t think there’s any problem with honoring a pitcher (Wainwright) with an Opening Day start because of his history with the team and his current run of Opening Day assignments.
If Matheny tabs Wainwright, Martinez will be starting game two anyways. I’m guessing Matheny values giving the Opening Day start to a pitcher as an honor, which is why he’ll probably settle on Adam Wainwright to take the mound April 2 against the Cubs.
Answer: Adam Wainwright
If Wainwright gets shelled on Opening Night and fans want to lay blame on Matheny, they can take solace in the fact that Martinez will be starting on the 4th. But methinks Wainwright will be up for the challenge. He’s a man on a mission in 2017.