St. Louis Cardinals: Wainwright seeking opinion on arm

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 11: Manager Mike Matheny
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 11: Manager Mike Matheny /

St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher Adam Wainwright heads back to St. Louis to seek doctors’ opinions about his arm.

For the second time in three starts, St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher Adam Wainwright failed to make it to the fourth inning. In last night’s win over Pittsburgh, Wainwright went three innings, allowing five earned runs to cross the plate on just fifty-five pitches. Lately, Wainwright has had pain in his right elbow.

In his previous start, many noticed the diminished velocity on Wainwright’s fastball. Last night, his fastball was topping out in the 85-86 MPH range, well below his average 90.6, according to Fangraphs. The St. Louis Cardinals just lost Trevor Rosenthal to the DL because of arm issues. It’s only a matter of time before Wainwright heads that way as well.

According to Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch, Wainwright is flying back to St. Louis today to have second opinions from the team’s medical staff about his arm.

The news of Adam Wainwright to the DL is definitely unwelcome. I won’t pretend to say he was the team’s best pitcher this year, but he was able to keep us in close games at times. Much of the off-season news on Wainwright was whether he would be able to return to his old self. I think at this point the 35-year-old would even admit that he isn’t the same anymore.

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The starting pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals has been critical in this second-half surge, however, with the loss of Wainwright and inconsistent pitching from others, the team’s hopes are on a delicate balance.

While we await the news on when Wainwright will head to the DL, I think there is a far bigger underlying issue surrounding the team, particularly the manager.

The St. Louis Cardinals find themselves a game-and-a-half back of the Cubs for first place in the NL-Central with forty-one games to go, so why are we pressing pitchers who are obviously injured, only to risk getting behind in games or lose games at the end?

I’m not saying management didn’t know something was wrong with Wainwright, but considering how close the Cardinals are to the lead in the division, you would think management would go with the best possible option at starting pitching.

It makes no sense to send ailing pitcher out to the mound in this critical time frame, with a chance to make the playoffs by the end of September.

Recently, my fellow writer, Jared, predicted the St. Louis Cardinals would need eighty-eight wins to capture the NL-Central crown. That means in the next forty-one games, the Cardinals would need to win twenty-six of them, while sending an ailing Wainwright to the mound every five games. Like your playoffs odds then?

The same could be said for Trevor Rosenthal, who is now on the 10-day DL. Late last night, a video showed Rosenthal warming up in the bullpen on August 16th. The Cardinals’ bullpen coach had a front-row seat to the issues Rosenthal was having with his elbow, yet they send him out there. Why would the Cardinals do that this close to the end of the season with playoff implications on the line?

The only thing I can think of, especially in Wainwright’s case, is the players want to play. They don’t want to let the team down. However, at some point, the manager needs to step in and say, “Enough is enough.”

I don’t know about you all, but I just keep coming back to the question I’ve asked all season long: Where is the urgency to win games? It just feels like the only thing we are consistently good at is getting in our own way of a playoff spot. If the St. Louis Cardinals want to make it the post-season, then quit peddling with ailing players, and give me the ones who give me the best chance to win.

Next: The effect of a Trevor Rosenthal injury

As much as I love Wainwright, the St. Louis Cardinals cannot continue to allow him to pitch hurt. It does the team no good, especially this close to the end of the season. While starting pitching has been a strength of the Cardinals this season, it’s time to look at options to strengthen the rotation.