St Louis Cardinals: Adam Wainwright is returning to 2019 trends
By Matt Graves
St. Louis Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright has revived his career but has started the year with a trend that stood out in 2019.
In the path that Adam Wainwright’s career has taken with the St. Louis Cardinals, 2018 feels like a distant memory. Back when he was a spring chicken at just 36, injuries and lack of performance had retirement rumors swirling around the St. Louis legend.
After choosing to persist, Waino has proved for three years now that he has plenty left in the tank. In 2019, his first resurgent year, Wainwright threw over 170.0 innings for the first time since 2016. His season ERA of 4.19 isn’t great on the surface, but there was a common trend that made his total ERA seem disingenuous.
At Busch Stadium, Adam Wainwright pitched like he was a Cy Young candidate, it was just the road that gave him troubles.
Looking at his splits, Waino made 16 starts at home and 15 on the road. In St. Louis, his ERA was just 2.56. On the road, it was 6.22. Nobody really knows why this was the case, whether it was that Busch is much more of a pitcher’s park or if it was just the hometown fans that took the 37-year-old to the fountain of youth.
After the rough seasons prior, nobody was complaining about what Waino was able to give, even if he looked like two different pitchers at times.
The answer to what caused Wainwright’s success at home can partially be answered in 2020. Making six starts at home and four on the road in the shortened season, Wainwright’s 3.24 home ERA was higher than his 3.00 ERA away from Busch. While there are a myriad of other reasons why this could buck the trend of any “normal” year, having no fans in the stands at Busch couldn’t have helped.
Thus far in 2021, Wainwright seems to be returning to the trend that he had in 2019, though it is still a very small sample size.
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Wainwright has made six starts at home and just half of that on the road. At home, he’s got a 2.41 ERA compared to 8.56 on the road. Furthermore, Waino is averaging just under seven innings at home while just over four and a half innings on the road. Three road starts aren’t really enough to make any sweeping conclusions, but early returns say having a home crowd backing Waino up makes all the difference.
This conclusion is cheap though because digging deeper into the road start sample reveals more. Wainwright’s three road starts were as follows: six earned runs over 2.2 innings at Cincinnati in the second game of the season, one run over 7.0 innings at Washington, and then six runs over 4.0 innings in San Diego last weekend.
Two bad starts, one really good one. That is why I say it is too early to draw sweeping conclusions, the sample size just isn’t there on the road.
You can’t argue with the overall numbers though as Wainwright has pitched 8.0 or more innings at Busch three times already this year, something nobody else on the staff has been able to do.
There is no question Wainwright has been amazing at home with the energy of the crowd behind him and there is no question that the trend fits 2019 so far. However, we need to see him make more road starts to be able to truly tell if Waino will fit into his 2019 trend over an entire season.