Sunday night in Cincinnati, the St. Louis Cardinals learned once again, for the umpteenth time, just how valuable Adam Wainwright is, as his performance continued to show that not only is Wainwright a Cy Young favorite, but perhaps even an MVP candidate. Faced with pitching for a stagnant offense, Wainwright nevertheless is on a 25-win pace and is literally carrying the team into contention.
Through the first five innings of a 1-0 game, several times Wainwright was simply dominant, leaving Cincinnati Reds hitters flummoxed with a combination moving cut fastballs and 12-6 curveballs. Able to change release points, spins and locations at will, watching the Cardinal ace pitch is like watching a master painter hone his craft. Pitch by pitch, Wainwright paints masterpieces by painting corners and leaving hitters wishing they had chosen another sport.
Despite the team’s inconsistent offense, Wainwright has flourished, leading or among the leaders in all important pitching categories. He is also a horse, giving the Cardinals a frequent deep game start when the club is desperately in need of bullpen rest, especially with Kevin Siegrist on the shelf from an injury that hints at elbow trouble. It also seems inevitable that some no-hitters are going to happen, as he has flirted with several recently and came within a single swing of a perfect game.
Because of his continued brilliance at the early stage of the season, the result of the Cardinal’s win/loss is not as relevant as the fact that the rest of the NL wants Wainwright, and the Cardinals have him, giving the club an advantage over the rest of baseball.