St. Louis Cardinals: Waino should be the closer in 2018

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

The St. Louis Cardinals might have grabbed a former Houston closer this offseason but one of the starting pitchers on the club already might be the even better closing option.

The St. Louis Cardinals went into this offseason admitting that they were looking for a closer. They have been linked to closers in trades such as Alex Colome and linked to free agents such as Wade Davis. Both of these names would be great but both come with significant costs.

What if, instead of finding a name outside of the organization, the team gets creative with the names already on their squad? Perhaps this is already in their thoughts. Stay tuned for a piece from Jason Grose on transitioning Alex Reyes to the closer role.

My idea? What if Adam Wainwright were to return to the pen and the closing role he knew in his former pitching life? We all know that Waino is aging and that 2017 showed that he might not have gas left in the tank. We also know that Wainwright wants to continue pitching and deserves that right. But we also know that Wainwright has been losing the edge on his pitches.

While many believe that closers are best when they throw high heat, we need only look back to the 2000s when Adam Wainwright confounded batters with a killer 12-6 curve. Just look at the Carlos Beltran at-bat. Here, I’ll show you:

Amazing right? So, while the rest of MLB may trot out fireballers, wouldn’t it serve the St. Louis Cardinals well to have Wainwright flip the switch and toss his killer curve and a respectable fast ball?

Wouldn’t it help Waino extend his pitching career? Wainwright would be going from tossing 175-250 innings to posting about 75 innings as the closer.

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In 2006, Wainwright pitched 75 innings from the pen and recorded three saves. He posted a bullpen ERA of 3.12 (his 2017 starting ERA was 5.11; wouldn’t you rather he post the pen ERA?) and a bullpen FIP of 3.31 (his 2017 starting FIP was 4.29). Waino’s 2006 WHIP from the pen was 1.147 as compared to his starting rotation WHIP of ’17 of 1.500.

To help Mozeliak with this conversation, I’ve take the privilege of writing the following “love note” to Wainwright. I urge that Mo use this letter to make the transition.

Dearest Adam Wainwright,

We St. Louis Cardinals fans adore you and love having you on our team. You are an amazing leader on this team and we want you to continue to be so in 2018 and perhaps even beyond. There is a way that we need you to extend your pitching career and we aren’t sure that the starting rotation is this option.

Remember when you were one of the prominent closers in the game?  We do and we think this makes better sense for you in 2018. And just think, if you serve as an impressive closer- which we know you can be- then the St. Louis Cardinals would be foolish to not extend your contract until you are ready to retire.

You have the best catcher in the league behind the plate and the two of you work so well together. We St. Louis Cardinals fans want to watch the two of you slamming the door shut on games. Please, please, please consider this option. Heck, try it out in spring training and then evaluate how you will be less tired than after full starts.

We want the best for you! Signed, all St. Louis Cardinals fans!

Next: Just say NO to Mike Moustakas

This letter will either work or it won’t but either way Adam Wainwright should be in the pen in 2018 and should close for the Cardinals.