Search This Blog


Monday, March 10, 2008

After Him… There’s Nothing

After Him… There’s Nothing
Posted by Chris Russell in St. Louis Cardinals
March 9th, 2008

From post season hero to defacto ace, Adam Wainwright has a lot to live up to this season.

From post season hero to defacto ace, Adam Wainwright has a lot to live up to this season.
Make no bones about about it. No one in Cardinal Nation expects this year’s starting staff to be good. In fact, they’ll have a very tough time improving on last season’s performance, which was the worst, statistically, in franchise history in a non-strike shortened year. It stands to be as gruesome as a bucket of puppies in a woodchipper, but there is a lone bright spot. That’s why all eyes will be on Adam Wainwright.

Thrown into the role of defacto ace due to Chris Carpenter’s injury, Wainwright will be shouldering Atlas like responsibility in 2008. With new scrap heap addition, Matt Clement, experiencing setbacks, Carp on the shelf until midseason, Looper and Pineiro questionably effective at best and Mark Mulder slated to pitch competently sometime in Biff Tannon’s alternate 1985 Wainwright is the Cardinals only dependable starter. Barring a miracle of course.

The lanky right hander got off to a rocky start last year in his first pro season as a starter (his ERA stood at 5.59 at the end of May), but Adam tightened some nuts and bolts and righted the ship (lowering his ERA to a staff best 3.70 at the end of the regular season). But Wainwright wasn’t just better, he was elite. He recorded the third best ERA in the National League after the All Star break, and looked like the dominant starter the Cardinals hoped he’d become. Now, he just needs to be better. With a shabby entourage behind him in the rotation, Wainwright will need to be consistently lights out all season if the Birds don’t want to end up in the cellar of quite possibly the worst division in baseball. That’s a tall order for a 26 year old, but Adam seems to have the poise, makeup and work ethic of a grizzled veteran. Add that to his vicious curveball and he has a shot at being one of the better starters in the league.

He’s not off to a great 2008 by any stretch of the imagination, giving up 10 hits and 3 walks in only 6 innings this spring, but hey, it’s spring training. As long as the kinks are worked out by opening day. There will be 45,000 red clad faithful on hand to see that they are.

Injury Watch

Wainwright relies on his bending 12-6 curveball as an out pitch to compliment his fastball, changeup and slider; eerily similar to previous Cardinal aces Matt Morris and Chris Carpenter. Similar pitches, similar arm angles and similar heavy workloads (Adam threw over 200 innings last year) could lead to similar health issues. Carp and Morris both had to undergo Tommy John surgery (Carp clearly is still recovering). Even though most pitchers rebound from Tommy John with increased velocity and success, the team could ill afford to lose Wainwright for a season and a half. He’s probably not in any danger for a couple years, but keep an eye on him down the road and don’t be surprised if he runs into the same elbow issues as his number one predecessors.

No comments: