Now that the St. Louis Cardinals have Adam Wainwright‘s contract situation out of the way, Waino can now focus on returning to Cy Young Award form. With the money he is now making, should we expect that type of pitcher the next five seasons?
Listening to what Wainwright had to say in his press conference after the deal was finalized, the paycheck isn’t what’s keeping the righty in St. Louis. He clearly loves the city and appreciates one of the best fan bases in all of professional sports, let alone Major League Baseball. There are some types of athletes who’s aim is nothing but financial gain. You can see it in the way they perform during contract years. And you can see it in the aftermath of their payday.
Wainwright will not be one of these ballplayers.
And for an organization still trying to hide the scars of an icon leaving their city, the return of Wainwright and–All-Star Catcher Yadier Molina–has provided the concealing ointment for St. Louis.
Exactly what type of year can Cardinal Nation expect out of the veteran headed into his seventh season, two years removed from Tommy John surgery?
Waino was simply looking to regain his footing as the team ace in 2012. His ERA was a career-high 3.94 but his FIP was over .80 lower. The explanation for that was Wainwright was the victim of some bad luck and/or weak defense during his starts. Its reasonable to assume that his ERA will drop to a much lower number.
The question in this case is will it return to its sub-3.00 level of 2009 and 2010? Both of those seasons he pitched over 230 innings and as the number one starter its expected of him to reach that level again. All MLB organizations want an ace to be a 20 win guy with an ERA in the 2.00′s.
As mentioned, Wainwright has shown he has the goods to meet that criteria–just not this season.
My prediction for Waino will be a 3.25 ERA with about 18 wins and he’ll eclipse the 200 inning mark while being at or near 200 strikeouts. Not far off what is desired but I cannot rule out the possibility of shoulder issues returning. I say that because my concern is Wainwright trying to do too much for the Cardinals this year, especially with Chris Carpenter‘s baseball career likely over.
For Wainwright to have a strong year, he’ll have to convince himself that the goal of October baseball does not live and die with him. The starting rotation might have more questions than it has in the past few seasons, but its not imperative Wainwright have a year where he’s a Cy Young award finalist.