Could Adam Wainwright choose to retire before Opening Day?
The St. Louis Cardinals brought back their club icon Adam Wainwright on a one-year, $17.5 million dollar deal back in October, with the hopes that he could have one last ride with the club as he pursued a World Series championship, ending on a higher note than 2022, and achieving some personal milestones. Based on how he has looked so far this spring, I wouldn't be surprised if Wainwright called it a career before Opening Day.
After a concerning start last Saturday where his fastball capped out at 84.9 MPH and his sinker at 85.6 MPH with shaky results, Wainwright was beaten up by the Houston Astros lineup today, with a final stat line of three runs, five hits, and two strikeouts over three innings pitched. While it is just Spring Training, the Statcast metrics are troubling.
Wainwright's fastest pitch of the day was a sinker at 86.2 MPH, with the average on the day being 85.4 MPH. The 41-year-old also gave up four batted balls with exit velocities over 104.5 MPH, including a 437-foot home run that left Jose Abreu's bat at 112.1 MPH.
It would be one thing if Wainwright was just struggling over these first two games of Spring Training, but is a whole other thing when his fastball velocity is down 4% and his struggles began at the end of 2022. Wainwright was left out of the Cardinals' playoff rotation last year and was hoping to prove that it was just a bad end to his season due to some weird injuries.
Unfortunately, to this point, it does not seem like that is the case. If we know anything about Uncle Charlie, it's that he's a competitor, and doubting him tends to go poorly for those who do. I grew up watching Wainwright and he will always be one of my favorite Cardinals, but if this is a sign of things to come, I doubt Wainwright would want to slug through a season as a bad fifth starter.
Again, things could turn around, and maybe the World Baseball Classic is all he needs to do that. But for the time being, retirement has entered my radar of possibilities for Wainwright in the near future.