Any team's starting rotation is just that, a rotation. To begin the season, it is a great time to pit best on best when every pitcher is fully healthy. While St. Louis Cardinals legend Adam Wainwright is not the team's best pitcher, he's still a no-brainer to start opening day.
Adam Wainwright has been the topic of conversation this spring when talking about the St. Louis Cardinals' starting rotation. While Jake Flaherty and Steven Matz are trying to re-establish themselves after an injury-riddled season, Wainwright is still proving he has more in the tank.
The almost 42-year-old righty has declared that the 2023 season will be his last in the majors. The future Cardinals Hall of Famer and potential Baseball Hall of Famer deserves one last chance to start an Opening Day contest in St. Louis.
There's no real value to starting an MLB Opening Day game other than it is a show of trust or validation from the team that they see that pitcher as their best heading into the new season.
Still, after losing legends Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols last season to retirement, Cardinals fans will be anxious to start the sendoff party for Wainwright, who has won two World Series for the team in his career.
Despite his struggles at the end of last season, he is not fighting for a spot in the Cardinals rotation, and the five spots have been locked up since the season ended a year ago. Wainwright will join Matz and Flaherty, along with Miles Mikolas and Jordan Montgomery, in the Cardinals' starting five.
Wainwright will be chasing an epic milestone for pitchers this year, the 200-win total. Wainwright is just five wins away from 200 for his career, and if he can get to 200 or even 210, the case for his Hall of Fame candidacy goes up.
He helped his cause last season by winning 11 games and making 32 starts. He finished the 2022 campaign with a 3.71 ERA and was nine innings shy of eclipsing the 200-inning plateau.
While last year was not his best season, there was no doubt he had another season left in his arm. He has transformed his game from his prime, where he finished in the top-3 in Cy Young voting four times, to being able to get hitters out while throwing 85 mph or less every pitch.
He will be the benchmark for aging pitchers in their careers. There are not many pitchers who are able to have long careers because they refuse to adapt as Wainwright has over the years.
While Flaherty or Mikolas may give the team the best chance to win on March 30 against the Blue Jays in St. Louis, there's no reason why Wainwright should not start the game if he is healthy out of spring training.
He deserves the start, he has earned the start, and the party at Busch Stadium will be rocking as soon as he is introduced for the first time in 2023.