After several months of arguably being the most underrated best-pitcher-in-the-majors candidate, Adam Wainwright might actually be slowing down as midsummer rolls around.
Not that the St. Louis Cardinals have much to worry about, though. Even if it is the case that the ace is slightly less effective than he was at the start of the season, there is little doubt that the right-hander is easily cruising to a career year in 2013.
Yes, the two-time MVP and World Series champion will have more ways to top himself yet before this season is said and done.
Before that, though, he had to navigate over the biggest speed bump he’d faced this season. With two out of his first three start being of the four-run variety (yes, when you’re as good as Wainwright, the faults get a little harder to find), the 31 year-old had put up a pair of non-quality starts in a month for the first time all season , taking no-decisions in both heading into the All-Star break.
Fortunately for the redbirds, any fears that Wainwright would emerge from the Midsummer Classic on a downward trend were quickly dispelled.
The righty did it the only way he knew how — by dominating the San Diego Padres on the mound through eight innings of two-run ball, while allowing just eight hits and striking out seven. Sure, the turn gives him a .262 BAA over 29 innings, which isn’t exactly ace-like … but when a 3.41/1.14 ERA/WHIP is considered a minor disappointment, you can tell the team probably has bigger problems.
That’s not to say that it’s all sunshine and roses, of course.
For a pitcher whose incredible performance thus far in 2013 has been defined by the emergence of a never-before-seen pinpoint control, the fact that Wainwright has now walked at least one batter in six straight starts going back to June 23 is definitely a trend he’ll want to get away from down the stretch.
Still, at 4.9 fWAR at this point of the season and slated to make at 10-plus starts before everything is said and done, Wainwright will have a good chance at breaking that elusive 7.0 fWAR barrier that would make it difficult for the Cardinals ace to be left out of the Cy Young conversation.
So even if he is slowing down a tad … let’s just say that’d still more than full speed ahead for most pitchers in the league.