St. Louis Cardinals: Adam Wainwright’s return leads to more questions on his arm health

jwolfe
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 16: Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals reacts after giving up a solo home run to Aaron Hicks of the New York Yankees in the fifth inning on April 16, 2017 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 16: Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals reacts after giving up a solo home run to Aaron Hicks of the New York Yankees in the fifth inning on April 16, 2017 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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St. Louis Cardinals veteran right-handed pitcher Adam Wainwright made his return to the mound on Saturday. However, it only leads us to more questions about the health of his arm.

The Pittsburgh Pirates offense tormented the St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff on Saturday night by scoring eleven runs. Even bigger news, our former ace, Adam Wainwright, made his first appearance, in a relief effort, since August 17th after returning from the DL with a right elbow injury.

Even though I will pick apart how poor the outing was, it is great to see Adam Wainwright never quit and give up. I respect his work effort, love for the game, and doing things the right way. I hope this is not the end of a great career, but all signs I see make me speculate it could be the end.

In his outing, Adam Wainwright went two innings, giving up one run, while surrendering three hits and a walk.

In a post game interview the 36-year-old pitcher said he felt “certainly better than a month ago.”

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Maybe he did feel better. At least he was not throwing barely 80+ MPH fastballs at a consistent rate.

Even so, none of his pitches reached ninety miles an hour, topping out at 89.2 mph. That is alarming because even during in his final two starts he reached 88.8 mph.

His velocity overall was a little better, but he was most effective this season when he reached the nineties. To the eye, this is not good.

Throwing at higher speed allows him more room for poor location, as well as making his secondary pitches more effective.

He may have been adamant that the injury needed nothing more than rest, but rest was given and not much changed.

I was expecting the Adam Wainwright of earlier in the season to show up and rediscover his velocity for the short stint outings out of the bullpen. That was not the case. This leads me to believe Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals recognize the injury is worse than original findings.

I think there is a strong possibility he needs surgery. Maybe not Tommy John surgery, but I certainly speculate something surgical to be in play at the end of the season for whatever the issue is.

Surgery on a throwing arm at age thirty-six is not ideal, especially one that has already had Tommy John. That may be why they gave him a month of rest and are trying it out right now to see how it has reacted to the time off. Seeing how the results are poor, makes it even more clear that surgery may be even more likely now than prior to the comeback.

As I said, I do not know what the injury truly is, they have been very vague in descriptions, but it is his right-elbow. If it is Tommy John surgery, we all have to expect this is the end of Adam Wainwright. I certainly hope this is not the case, and also hope that it is a minor procedure at worst. Such as one that cleans up the elbow and requires rest that will allow him to be fully back by spring training.

However, the results are making me nervous this too is not the case.

With all the uncertainty regarding the health of the arm, I do not expect Adam Wainwright to play an important role for the final push of 2017. Judging by what the upper management have said about his role and last outing, he will not rejoin the rotation. I do imagine though, he will continue to receive innings that are in non-essential times like Saturday night being down six runs when he came in.

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I wish Adam Wainwright all the best. I hope he can rekindle the velocity he had and find himself out of the bullpen. He has been super fun to watch over the past decade. I cannot imagine the St. Louis Cardinals without Uncle Charlie, but I am bracing for the worst. Just as you should, too.

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