St. Louis Cardinals: Why Adam Wainwright should not rejoin starting rotation

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 17: Adam Wainwright
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 17: Adam Wainwright /

The St. Louis Cardinals decided to go younger with their team, including the starting pitching staff. Adam Wainwright is a shell of what he once was and needs to stay on the bench.

The St. Louis Cardinals starting pitching has had its ups and downs in the 2017 season. They rode a great wave early in the year with surprising success, but struggled soon after. Since the infusion of young talent into the rotation over the last couple of weeks, the rotation has reverted back to good form.

I believe Adam Wainwright played a key role in the decline of the staff, especially in the second half of the season. Blame it on injury, fatigue, you name it, but he was not a quality starter.

This season Adam Wainwright has totaled 121 1/3 innings pitched and managed to win twelve of his twenty-three starts. It seems like he should have great numbers, but that is not the case. He instead has had a little bit of help.

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The St. Louis Cardinals in his starts have given him about 6.82 runs of support per start. Counting every Cardinals’ game, they average only 4.73 runs per game.

Obviously, he gets a considerable amount more of offense when he starts.

I’ll give him some credit. His hitting is not bad, but he is not too much higher than our other starters. He alone is not worth the extra 2.09 runs per game when he starts.

With his OPS of .701, which is well below the MLB average, he cannot be the difference.

Lets take a deeper look at his pitching statistics to really see why he should not rejoin the starting rotation.

In 2017, he has given up 10.16 hits per nine innings, which compared to his career average of 8.51, is incredibly high. Compile that with 1.04 of those hits he gives up every nine innings is a home run, also a career high. Those two factors alone create a basis for opposing teams to score a lot of runs.

Teams also have a .329 BABIP against him in 2017, a career worst. That number can be a little deceiving, I will admit, because of placement of balls put in play. However, this is his second season in a row of below average velocity, so I think it is as sign players are hitting ball harder against him coinciding with that high BABIP.

Overall, this assumption can be backed up with teams having a .791 OPS off of him. Well above the MLB average.

My final reason is from what my Predator Run Index (PRI) ranks Adam Wainwright among other pitchers. He has posted a +7.20 PRI in 2017, best for 590th out of 636 qualifying pitchers. To give an understanding of the scale for PRI, negative numbers are better for pitchers. Such as Carlos Martinez has a -13.32 PRI and Lance Lynn has a -10.69 PRI. Anywhere from -1.99 to +1.99 PRI is average.

Clearly, Adam Wainwright is not even close.

I am not saying other players like Jack Flaherty and Michael Wacha are lighting it up, but they are much better options. Flaherty has posted a +1.60 PRI in his two starts and Wacha coming into the game versus the Pirates has posted a +1.24 PRI. Comparatively, they are at least average. Luke Weaver, who has started in place of Adam Wainwright, has been exceptional posting an above average -3.61 PRI.

I love Adam Wainwright, but the success of his past should not truly determine if he should play right now. He has been well below average, even if his win total says otherwise.

Next: Juan Nicasio's success offers intrigue to Cards

The St. Louis Cardinals are in transition to younger arms. We need Jack Flaherty and Luke Weaver to continue to throw the rest of 2017 and get more experience for 2018. Time will tell, but I expect he will rejoin the rotation, not to my liking, but I guess we will have to live with our below average “Ace”.