What the Adam Wainwright injury means for the St. Louis Cardinals

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Adam Wainwright # 50 and Yadier Molina #4 of the St. Louis Cardinals bump gloves prior to the start of the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 10, 2019 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by St. Louis Cardinals, LLC/Getty Images)
Adam Wainwright # 50 and Yadier Molina #4 of the St. Louis Cardinals bump gloves prior to the start of the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 10, 2019 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by St. Louis Cardinals, LLC/Getty Images) /
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As the St. Louis Cardinals get Harrison Bader back, they lose pitcher Adam Wainwright to the COVID-19 Injured List.

The St. Louis Cardinals placing Adam Wainwright on the COVID-19 Injured List, as first reported by Katie Woo of The Athletic, puts the team and its rotation in a precarious position during their most pivotal stretch of the regular season so far.

The Cardinals are in the middle of a 17-game in 17 day stretch. They have gotten strong performances lately from Jack Flaherty and Carlos Martinez, who have both pitched deep into games. While the left-handed relievers, most notably Andrew Miller, have struggled, their bullpen has been decent. But losing Wainwright for any period of time is a huge blow to the Cardinals when they need him most.

First and foremost, the Cardinals hope that Wainwright is OK. Woo said that he was placed on the COVID-19 IL as a precautionary measure after a family member tested positive for the virus. He will not travel with the team to Pittsburgh, where he was scheduled to start Sunday against the Pirates, but the team is optimistic that he will be able to return Monday.

So it is not like Wainwright will miss a significant amount of time, which is good news for the Cardinals. But it is unclear how they will go about replacing him for his start Sunday. One option could be Johan Oviedo, who was just called up after an extended stint at the alternate site, but he figures to be one of many possibilities the team considers.

Wainwright, 39, has been very good this season with the exception of a six-inning outing against the Cincinnati Reds. In his four starts since, he has allowed only seven earned runs in 26 innings, with his last start being a nine inning outing in which he allowed only two runs and took the loss against the Philadelphia Phillies.

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Wainwright should be back soon, of course. But any time he misses a start, especially during a stretch like this, is a blow for the Cardinals.

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