St. Louis Cardinals: Reviewing Adam Wainwright’s First Start in 2017

Apr 4, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (50) pitches to a Chicago Cubs batter during the first inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 4, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (50) pitches to a Chicago Cubs batter during the first inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

St. Louis Cardinals veteran pitcher and team leader Adam Wainwright made his 2017 season debut against the 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. After a poor 2016 season, Waino is looking to rebound and silence all the doubters.

The St. Louis Cardinals opened up the season with a win behind an amazing season debut from Carlos Martinez. Adam Wainwright followed up with a solid start against Jake Arrieta and the Cubs and there are a number of positive and negative take-aways from his 2017 season debut.

The 35-year old veteran held a deadly Cubs lineup to two runs over five innings and was relieved by Matthew Bowman after 82 pitches. He only allowed three hits while walking two and striking out six including this beautiful curve that got the very swing-happy Javier Baez to whiff at for the second time:

Wainwright ended up striking out two in the second inning, two in the fourth inning, and two in his final inning (5th). He looked solid while not making too many mistakes. His location was reliable, especially on his curveball. He kept it low and out of the zone while he threatened the zone with his cutter and sinker. Waino induced four ground balls compared to nine flyballs, most of which were weakly hit.

A great example of how he used his cut fastball to attack the Cubs’ sluggers can be found here:

The cutter runs from outside the zone to just barely on the plate. It may have gotten some help from Yadier Molina‘s framing but the location is near perfect and Waino’s control was mainly consistent.

However, there was the wild pitch that everyone is talking about from Wainwright. He spiked a ball no where near the plate or Molina and it was against Jake Arrieta.

This pitch confused everyone watching as well as the broadcasters. It later came out via an interview with Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he purposely spiked the ball for safety reasons. Wainwright claims that he and Molina were not on the same page and he did not want to risk throwing a pitching to Molina that he was not ready for and risk hurting the All-Star catcher.

Regardless, Wainwright did show signs of his “normal” self. His curveball looked sharp compared to the one featured in 2016 that often hung up or flattened out. The curve used to be his best pitch and in 2016 it was arguably his worst.

Unfortunately for Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals, his solid five inning outing wasn’t enough to secure a win. The two runs allowed by him were enough for the Cubs to escape Game 2 of the series with a win.

Cardinals fans should expect a similar workload from Wainwright going forward. The pitching staff is the key to this team’s success going forward and the starters’ workloads is likely going to be monitored and controlled closely.

However, it was pretty nice seeing Wainwright look like his old self and attack some of the best hitters in the game. The 2016 National League MVP, Kris Bryant, was even fooled a couple times after Wainwright kept the Cubs lineup off balance.

Overall, the St. Louis Cardinals and their fans should be cautiously optimistic with Adam Wainwright’s first start. It was against arguably the best line-up in all of baseball but it is also very early in the season. Wainwright looked sharp while some of the Cubs’ batters did not.

Next: Lance Lynn Impresses in Season Debut

However, if Wainwright can continue to pitch similarly to how he did in Game 2, then the Cardinals should be in good shape. It would be nice to seem him be a bit more efficient considering he was over 80 pitches in the 5th inning but if the bullpen performs as well as it should, 5 strong innings should be more than enough to secure double-digit wins for Uncle Charlie.