Is it overreacting or reality? Here were the major takeaways from the Cardinals' first Spring Training game
The St. Louis Cardinals had their first Spring Training action of the year, falling to the Washington Nationals 3-2. It was so good to see this team in action after a long winter, and so many different faces got a chance to play during their first action.
It's hard not to overreact to the first game of Spring Training, but there are some things you can already pick up on, even in exhibition action. Let's look at some of the bigger stories from the game and see if they are overreactions or reality.
Adam Wainwright's velocity decline is worrisome
Surprising to no one, Adam Wainwright received the first start of Spring Training for the Cardinals, looking to ramp up and get some work in before joining Team USA for the World Baseball Classic here shortly. While it is literally the first exhibition game of the year, many noticed how low Wainwright's velocity was.
Wainwright threw 14 sinkers during his first Spring Training action, averaging 84.1 MPH with a max velocity of 85.6 MPH according to Baseball Savant. His other two fastballs, the 4-seam fastball and his cutter, topped out at 82.8 and 80.2 respectively.
No one expected Wainwright to be throwing gas this season, ranking in the 2nd percentile in fastball velocity last season, but even then his sinker averaged 88.6 MPH, meaning Wainwright was 3.9% below his average in 2022.
Wainwright was not going to be the ace of this staff in 2023, and realistic expectations for the 41-year-old was being a solid back-of-the-rotation arm. But based on his struggles at the end of 2022 and continued loss of velocity, it's fair to be at least concerned about whether or not Wainwright can be a valuable rotation member this season