Mike Shildt compares Adam Wainwright to St. Louis Cardinals legend
Adam Wainwright has been dominant in his age-39 season and it’s put him in conversation as best pitcher in St Louis Cardinals history.
When the St. Louis Cardinals re-signed Adam Wainwright this winter, they knew he could still be an impact pitcher. Their one-year, $8 million commitment underscored that confidence and his 3.15 ERA in his age-38 season last year was a large reason for that.
But the Cardinals could not have expected anything like this. Wainwright continued his dominant season on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, throwing eight scoreless innings in a 3-0 victory on the same day the organization honored legend Bob Gibson at Busch Stadium. And after the game, manager Mike Shildt compared the two, highlighting just how good Wainwright has been throughout his career, especially now that he is 39.
“Wainwright is our (club’s) modern day Gibson,” Shildt said, via Zachary Silver of MLB.com, “which is saying something. He expected to dominate, Mr. Gibson. Waino expects to go out and dominate. Waino expects to go nine. Waino expects to go deep in a game. Waino expects to make pitches when he needs to. Waino expects to get it done.”
Boy, has he ever gotten it done. He has been even better than last season, producing a 3.10 ERA across 25 starts. He has thrown 23 innings against the Pirates this season and allowed only one run. Wainwright has often scoffed at the comparison’s — Silver says it’s to not jinx himself — but the way he and Gibson are similar is in their ability to eat innings. Wainwright, in his 16th season in the majors, has thrown 162.2 innings, which is only six innings behind Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Zack Wheeler who leads MLB in that category.
If Wainwright finishes the season with the most innings in baseball, he would be only the fourth pitcher in American League/National League history to accomplish that feat in their age-39 or older season, according to MLB.com, with Charlie Hough (1987), Phil Niekro (1978/1979) and Early Wynn (1959) being the only pitchers to do so.
It feels like after each outing that we’re calling it vintage Wainwright. It’s true. He has simply been brilliant this season and not only has he earned the right to come back to the Cardinals next season and potentially beyond, he’s now rightfully in the conversation as one of, if not the best, pitchers in franchise history.
This season has essentially cemented that status.