When the Braves and Cardinals begin a three-game weekend series on Friday in Atlanta, he’ll look to remind his former club that the deal it made almost a decade ago was a mistake.
Detroit Tigers starter Max Scherzer and Tampa Bay Rays hurler Matt Moore are tied for the most wins in MLB with 14. Wainwright can match them with a win against the Braves, against whom he is 6-1 in his career, with his only loss coming at Turner Field in May 2012.
St. Louis certainly has more pressure on it than Atlanta, as despite holding an MLB-best 62-37 record, the Cardinals are just 2.5 games ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Central, with the Cincinnati Reds still very much alive at five games back. The Braves, meanwhile, are eight games in front of the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals in the NL East thanks to a 57-45 mark.
What’s ironic is that although the Braves have been alone in first place since the second day of the season, they have yet to return to the level of play that helped them to a 17-9 record in April, going 40-36 since.
On Friday, Wainwright will be opposed by left-hander Mike Minor, who has been the Braves’ ace this year, having posted a 9-5 record and a 2.98 ERA.
Like his team, Minor has failed to perform at the level that he did early in the season, so it will be imperative for him to match Wainwright pitch for pitch and prove that he is capable of shutting down one of the best offenses in baseball.
In this pitcher’s duel, Minor needs to be major once again.