Tag: Adam Wainwright

Adam Wainwright Wants to Participate in 2016 MLB Home Run Derby

Pitchers announcing their candidacy for the Home Run Derby is the latest trend in Major League Baseball, and St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright officially threw his hat in the ring Tuesday.

After San Francisco Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner and Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta previously revealed their desire to be part of the contest, Wainwright tweeted about it Sunday:

According to MLB.com’s Nick Krueger, Wainwright confirmed he is serious: “I’m ready if they call. If in fact there was a one-millionth of a chance to get in it, I wanted to let the world know that I wanted to be a part of it.”

The 34-year-old righty has performed well at the plate this season, hitting .261 with one homer and 10 RBI in just 23 at-bats. He has hit seven home runs in his 11-year career.

Wainwright missed nearly the entire 2015 season with a torn Achilles, which he suffered while batting, and Cards manager Mike Matheny is wary about one of his top pitchers potentially putting himself in danger, per Krueger.

“I don’t see a whole lot of good that comes from that,” Matheny said. “It’s the break, they’re going to have fun, but I see somebody falling down swinging really hard. If Waino was in there, he would fall into that category, but he puts on a good show in BP.”

Wainwright said the risk of injury is minimal: “There’s probably more chance of a pitcher going out and hurting himself pitching in a game than hitting batting practice. We do this every day, it’s not like they’re going out there and asking us to go out and do something we don’t ever do. We hit on the field quite a bit.”

Bumgarner, who has 13 career home runs, started the pitcher Home Run Derby trend on June 7, when he told ESPN’s Buster Olney about his intentions. Arrieta followed a few days later.

With support for pitchers in the Derby mounting, Olney revealed on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball (h/t SI.com) that Major League Baseball has considered holding a pitchers-only Home Run Derby, perhaps pitting Bumgarner against New York Mets hurler Noah Syndergaard.

There’s bound to be some interest in seeing Wainwright, Arrieta, Bumgarner and Syndergaard facing off.


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Adam Wainwright’s Early Struggles Should Have the Cardinals on Edge

And now for a question that’s simultaneously the last thing the St. Louis Cardinals want to ask, and also the first thing they currently can’t ignore:

What if Adam Wainwright isn’t Adam Wainwright anymore?

The veteran right-hander didn’t look the part of himself—a proven ace with four top-five Cy Young finishesin his first two starts of 2016, and the trend continued into his third outing Saturday. Against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium, Wainwright helped turn an early 4-0 lead into a 9-8 loss by allowing seven earned runs on 10 hits and a walk. He struck out only two.

After he missed almost all of 2015 with a torn Achilles, it all adds up to a less-than-triumphant return for Wainwright. In 16.1 innings, the 34-year-old has been touched up for 15 earned runs on 22 hits. He’s faced 78 batters and walked more of them (nine) than he’s struck out (seven).

And no, it’s not just the numbers that send up red flags.

“I’ve made more mistakes these first three games than I have entire seasons I feel like,” Wainwright said after Saturday’s game, via Joe Harris of MLB.com. “The only way I’m not going to come out of this is if I get down on myself and start pouting around about it.”

And so it goes. Wainwright wasn’t happy with how he pitched in spring training. He then sought answers after he struggled in his season debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates. After that, he was still frustrated after his second start against the Atlanta Braves.

For now, the season is still in the heart of small-sample-size country. But when both the numbers and the man generating them are signaling something’s not right, the notion must be taken at face value.

Wainwright did provide a silver lining Saturday. He cruised through the first three innings, and overall he had better stuff than he did in either of his first two starts.

One of the complaints Wainwright voiced to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after his second outing was that he wasn’t “getting everything to the correct position to drive the baseball,” which partially showed in his fastball velocity.

Courtesy of Brooks Baseball, this leads us to the silver lining:

Wainwright didn’t suddenly start lighting up the gun against Cincinnati, but he did take a step forward. And given that a fastball at 91-ish miles per hour and a cutter at 87-ish miles per hour is right about where Wainwright was with his heat in 2014 and 2015, that’ll do for a sign of progress.

Trouble is, this velocity spike didn’t do Wainwright much good. He went into Saturday’s start with a whiff rate of just 6 percent and a strikeout rate of 10 percent. Only six of his 74 pitches (8.1 percent) against the Reds drew whiffs, and he struck out two of the 27 batters he faced (7.4 percent).

This is a reminder that even velocity reminiscent of what Wainwright had in 2014 and 2015 may only go so far. Though he was mostly successful anyway, he wasn’t missing bats or striking hitters out in those two seasons like he was when he had better velocity during his 2009-2013 peak:

  • 2009-2013: 9.3 SwStr%, 22.3 K%
  • 2014-2015: 8.8 SwStr%, 19.7 K%

That Wainwright was able to put up a 2.29 ERA across 2014 and 2015 was thanks a whole lot more to his pinpoint command. But as Ryan Boyer of NBC Sports notes, that’s another thing he’s struggling with:

You can look at Wainwright’s nine walks and say “Duh,” but even those are only half the story.

Wainwright himself said he’s been making too many mistakes, and the data bears that out. According to Baseball Savant, he was up with his pitches at the highest rate of his career in his first two starts. And as this Brooks Baseball chart can show, the pattern continued in his third:

It would be one thing if Wainwright were trying to pitch up to change hitters’ eye levels. But since he basically didn’t work down in the zone at all, that’s not what that looks like. This looks like a guy who just can’t find his release point.

Wainwright has definitely been trying to find it, telling Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com that he even went as far as practicing in front of a mirror. But the way things are going, it’s possible he’s having the same issues he had in 2012. After missing all of 2011 recovering from Tommy John surgery, Wainwright told Mark Saxon of ESPN.com that it took him half the season to get right again. After sitting out most of 2015, it could be deja vu all over again.

Or, Wainwright could be battling the effects of age. It drops arm slots just as easily as it drops velocity, after all. Here’s a graph that indicates this could be happening to Wainwright’s arm slot:

If this is what Wainwright is fighting against, it could be tough for him to emerge as the winner. In such fights, age is going to win more often than not.

This is not to say Wainwright is broken beyond repair. He at least seems healthy, and that’s not to be taken for granted at his age. And even without pinpoint command and the ability to miss bats, he and Yadier Molina are both smart enough that they could come up with a way for him to survive anyway.

But a non-broken starting pitcher who’s capable of surviving is not what the Cardinals need atop their rotation. That’s where they need an ace. And if Wainwright can’t be that guy, you wonder who can.

New addition Mike Leake is a mid-rotation starter all the way. Jaime Garcia is very good when he’s healthy, but his health comes and goes. Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez have ace-level talent, but the jury’s still out on whether they can handle the workload. Meanwhile, Lance Lynn is out for the year and John Lackey is a Chicago Cub.

The Cardinals knew all this coming into the season, of course, but they clearly figured it would all be rendered moot when Wainwright started pitching like an ace again. From the looks of things, though, that “when” may actually be an “if.”


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Adam Wainwright Ace Comeback Would Keep Cardinals in World Series Picture

With apologies to Mike Leake, the St. Louis Cardinals didn’t get an ace this winter. But they might be getting an ace back, which could be equally huge.

We’re talking about Adam Wainwright, one of the best pitchers in baseball when he’s right.

That caveat is important, because Wainwright, who turns 35 in August, missed nearly all of last season with a busted Achilles tendon. It’s not a given that he’ll resume his dominant, ace-level ways over a 162-game grind.

There’s cause for optimism, however. And if Wainwright can be an elite rotation anchor, the Cardinals vault into the thick of the postseason scramble and become a legitimate World Series contender.

First, about that optimism. Yes, Wainwright made just four starts in 2015 before tearing his Achilles running out of the batter’s box at Milwaukee‘s Miller Park last April. But after initial reports suggested he could be out nine to 12 months, the right-hander returned Sept. 30, well ahead of schedule.

And he looked good. Wainwright allowed one earned run in three regular-season frames after coming off the disabled list. Then he threw 5.1 relief innings in the Cardinals’ division series loss to the Chicago Cubs, yielding one earned run and fanning six.

It’s an admittedly minuscule sample size, but it suggests Wainwright—a three-time All-Star with a career 2.98 ERAis fully capable of picking up where he left off.

If he does, it’ll be a rocket-fuel boost to a Cards rotation that lost veteran John Lackey to the division-rival Cubs and Lance Lynn to Tommy John surgery.

The addition of Leake, a reliable innings-eater, helps. But if St. Louis hopes to defend its National League Central crown, it needs an undisputed stud to front a group that also includes Jaime Garcia, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez.

The projection systems are mostly bullish on Wainwright. Steamer foretells 203 innings with a 3.52 ERA, per FanGraphs. And FanGraphs’ own projection is even more optimistic, predicting 207 innings and a tidy 2.95 ERA.

The wet blanket is age. Plenty of pitchers have remained elite into and beyond their age-35 seasons. But Father Time is always lurking ominously in the background, waiting to exact his inevitable toll.

Really, that specter hangs over the entire Cardinals roster. Remember when Jason Heyward suggested he chose the Cubs over the Cards because of the former’s emerging stars and the latter’s aging core?

In addition to providing bulletin-board fodder for St. Louis, Heyward made a decent point. Catcher Yadier Molina is 33. Left fielder Matt Holliday is 36. And both have battled injuries and signs of decline.

Still, this team won 100 games last year. It’s strung together eight consecutive winning seasons and hoisted a Commissioner’s Trophy in that span.

Plus, sprinkled among the graying vets are promising youngsters like the outfield duo of Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty, which yours truly recently highlighted as a possible antidote to the Heyward defection.

To hear Wainwright tell it, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, age isn’t necessarily a bad thing:

Nobody likes being called old, right? But I think they’re right, for the most part. We are aging. We’re just becoming more wise. Somebody has to get old. If we’re still playing and older it means we still have some ability. The more people talk about it, the more we laugh because we just know Matt Holliday is still going to hit well. We know that Yadier is still going to catch well. And hopefully we know I’m going to pitch well.

There are no guarantees in life or in baseball. And the Cubs, with last season’s National League Championship Series run under their belt and the offseason additions of Heyward, Lackey and Ben Zobrist, are the division darling.

As Goold pointed out, “The Cubs have one of the richest harvest of young players in baseball. Their projected lineup has an average age of 26.78. With Brandon Moss (32) at first base, the Cardinals’ is 30.22.”

Additionally, the defending NL champion New York Mets, redemption-seeking Washington Nationals, even-year San Francisco Giants, perennially dangerous Los Angeles Dodgers and reloaded Arizona Diamondbacks all figure to be in the mix for Senior Circuit supremacy.

But count Wainwright and the Cardinals out at your peril. The man and the franchise have a rich, established history of winning, plain and simple.

Many teams boasted flashier, louder winters than St. Louis. You could even argue the Cardinals have been complacent, though they made serious runs at both Heyward and southpaw David Price. But the club that “wins” the offseason isn’t always the one that stands tall in October. Sometimes, a workmanlike comeback means more than a splashy signing or trade.

To put it another way: The best ace might be the one you’re already holding.


All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Yadier Molina’s Injury Hangs over Cardinals, but Adam Wainwright Offers Hope

With the good news came the bad news.

The St. Louis Cardinals received a boost to their playoff pitching picture on Monday, but the leaders in the National League Central also took what could end up being a significant hit to their lineup and defense.

Ace Adam Wainwright, believed to be shelved for the entire season after he ripped up his Achilles tendon coming out of the batter’s box on April 25, has been cleared to resume baseball activities. That gives the Cardinals hope that Wainwright could pitch for them out of the bullpen, as he did during their 2006 World Series run, during this postseason and possibly even before the end of the regular season.

The hurtful blow was losing catcher Yadier Molina, one of the premier defensive catchers in the sport, to a torn ligament in his left thumb. Molina will be sidelined for at least seven days and be reevaluated within the next week. If his prognosis does not improve, it is possible the Cardinals won’t have their starting catcher for the playoffs.

Molina does not need surgery, and the tear is less severe than the one Molina suffered last year in his right thumb, which ended up costing the seven-time All-Star 40 games. That is the encouraging part for the Cardinals.

If the Cardinals clinch the division, they would not play their first playoff game until Oct. 9. General manager John Mozeliak gave a status update after the game:

“There’s a reason to have some optimism,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told Jennifer Langosch of MLB.com. “When he slid into third base last year, there was instantly, ‘OK, this is going to be a while.’ That is not the same message we’re hearing right now. Right now, it’s not definitive that he’s going to be out for a long period of time, which, for us, is good news.”

The Cardinals need that, because if Molina is out for any significant time and has to miss some or all of the postseason, it is a crippling blow to not only the offense, but the pitching staff as well.

Molina is hitting .270/.310/.350 with four home runs and an 80 OPS+, his worst season since 2010. But Molina’s numbers in the postseason are good. He has hit .290/.344/.375 with a .719 OPS in 86 games (335 plate appearances). In a struggling Cardinals offense, that kind of production could end up being much needed by the time the playoffs roll around.

The bigger issue is losing Molina behind the plate. He has a stellar reputation for handling pitching staffs, blocking balls and controlling the running game as well as anyone who has ever put on the tools of ignorance.

This year’s Cardinals pitching staff had a major league-best 2.92 ERA entering Monday. When throwing to Molina, it has as 2.79 ERA. That goes up to 3.70 when throwing to Molina’s backup, Tony Cruz, who will be the starting catcher until Molina returns.

Losing Molina for any part of the postseason would greatly impact the team’s chances of advancing just based on how he works with the pitchers—the team’s biggest strength.

“Hands in the game of baseball are so important, whether it’s receiving or throwing, because you need them both to hit,” Mozeliak told Langosch. “We’ll see when we can start testing it from an offensive standpoint. In the meantime, we’ll look at different ways that we can help protect the hand.”

Wainwright’s return could soften the blow of losing Molina, assuming he’s out for any meaningful time. Wainwright is scheduled to throw a simulated game this coming weekend, but because of the time remaining in the season, he would not be stretched out enough to start.

That is fine for the Cardinals, because the last time Wainwright pitched out of the bullpen in the postseason, he was as dominant as a reliever could possibly be with a 0.00 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 9.2 innings, although he did blow a save in the World Series (yet ended up with the win).

That was in 2006, and if he is 100 percent healthy, 2015 could give the Cardinals that same kind of weapon next month.

“I think I would have a much higher confidence level to have him throw in-season before you would put him on the [playoff] roster,” Mozeliak told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“He’s awfully optimistic. If you’ll recall last time he was in the bullpen, he was pretty good. I would imagine it would look just like that.”

If Wainwright were to be that good again, it would go a long way in absorbing the possible loss of Molina in the postseason. For now, the Cardinals are in the fluid state of wait-and-see.


All quotes, unless otherwise specified, have been acquired first-hand by Anthony Witrado. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

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Adam Wainwright Injury: Updates on Cardinals Star’s Achilles and Recovery

As the St. Louis Cardinals finalize their run toward the playoffs, they will soon learn whether starting pitcher Adam Wainwright will be able to take the mound again this season.

Continue for updates.

Wainwright to Learn 2015 Fate Monday

Thursday, Sept. 17

The 34-year-old hurler tore his Achilles in April, and while it was initially thought that he would miss the remainder of the 2015 campaign, hope remains that he could still return to action.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the three-time All-Star will be evaluated by doctors Monday, at which point it will be determined if he will pitch again this season or shut it down for the rest of the year.

Wainwright has been throwing bullpen sessions, and, per David Wilhelm of the Belleville News-Democrat, he is unwilling to give up on the idea of returning until he’s told he can’t:

No doctors are telling me it’s impossible. That’s the story that everyone keeps writing that I haven’t heard yet, and I would think I would know. If a doctor had told me that, then I would have shut this down a whole long time ago and told you all, ‘Hey, I’ll see you next year.’ But no one’s telling me that. I don’t know if they just don’t want to tell me that or if it’s just not the case. I’m following my procedure and steps to (reach) and we’ll see what happens.

If Wainwright is able to return this season, Goold reported that it would be as a reliever rather than a starter, according to Tim McKernan of InsideSTL.com.

Although that wouldn’t be ideal, the Cards entered Thursday with MLB‘s best team ERA at 2.86, and they have an excellent rotation that includes Lance Lynn, John Lackey, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez and Jaime Garcia.

Wainwright served as a dominant reliever in the playoffs when St. Louis won the World Series in 2006, and if he can come back in a similar role this time around, the Cardinals may have the secret weapon they need to go the distance in October.


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St. Louis Cardinals Boast 1 of History’s Best Pitching Staffs

When Adam Wainwright tore his Achilles tendon in April, the St. Louis Cardinals were left without their true acelet alone one of baseball’s top pitchersfor most of the season. Despite the setback, the National League powerhouse has relied on a pitching staff on pace to challenge MLB record books.

At 73-41, St. Louis owns the majors’ best record in 2015—at least five games ahead of any other team and six in front of a tough NL Central that might produce three playoff teams.

Yet the Cardinals have done so not by scoring runssorry, Bill James apologists—but rather by preventing them.

St. Louis pitchers have allowed 2.93 runs per game this seasonthe best in the league by more than 0.5 runswhile scoring just 3.97 (21st in the league).

But it’s the 2.93 per game that could go down as one of the best marks ever when considering it’s 29.2 percent lower than the league average of 4.14.

The St. Louis pitching staff is one of the best of the past 20 yearsa span that includes both the height of MLB’s “steroid era” and today’s “dead-ball era.”

Its dominance blows away the average MLB team at a rate that’s almost unheard of.

A study by Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal pointed out the Cardinals arms corps is one of MLB’s best of the past century: “Only one team since 1900, the 1906 Chicago Cubs, performed better, allowing 2.46 runs a game compared with a league average of 3.62—a difference of 32 percent.”

Even without Wainwright, who went 2-1 with a 1.44 ERA in four starts before his injury, for much of the season, Cardinals starters own a collective 2.77 ERA so far this season.

If it holds up, that would be the lowest ERA by a starting rotation in 30 yearsthe 1985 Dodgers accumulated a 2.71 mark.

Paul Casella of Sports on Earth noted the unusual path the St. Louis starters have taken, though: “The Cardinals have seemed to collectively master run prevention, all without a single pitcher ranking within the top 15 in strikeouts, WHIP or strikeout-to-walk ratio.”

Either way, all five starting pitchers, from the 36-year-old John Lackey to the 23-year-old Carlos Martinez, sit below a 3.00 ERA at the moment.

Grantland’s Ben Lindbergh pointed out the St. Louis pitching staff strands baserunners at a rate no other team in history can match.

Some of the contributions might come from a resilient starting rotation. But the Cardinals employ a bullpen that isn’t shabby, either.

The relievers’ 2.26 ERA is the best since that of the 1972 Pittsburgh Piratesthe only bullpen better since the league lowered the mound in 1969.

More interesting are the members of the Cardinals pen.

There’s the starter-turned-closer, Trevor Rosenthal, who’s tied for the league lead with 35 saves. There’s Randy Choate, a 39-year-old workhorse, and Kevin Siegrist, a 26-year-old setup specialist. Then you have two recent additions in veterans Jonathan Broxton and Steve Cishekformer dominant closers who are now role players.

No matter the name or story, each reliever is capable of entering a game in a jam and shutting down opposing offenses.

The statistics show that Cardinals pitchers, as an entire unit, get more dominant once runners reach base, per Baseball-Reference.com:

St. Louis pitchers allow a .257 batting average when the bases are empty23rd in MLB and 10 points worse than the league average this season.

When runners get on or, even worse, get in scoring position, they turn into monsters and allow batters to hit just .212 and .194, respectively, in those situationsboth marks rank first in the majors by a wide margin.

Sports Illustrated‘s Tom Verducci credited catcher Yadier Molina for his game management behind the plate:

No other club is close to the Cardinals when it comes to the key moments of run prevention: when the opponent has scoring chances. Credit has to go not only to the pitchers, but also to veteran catcher Yadier Molina, whose skills at framing and calling pitchers are most valuable in those pressure situations.

Baseball’s new-age thinking based in analytics claims that scoring runs ultimately leads to winning ballgames. Yet the Cardinals are dispelling that notion in 2015. 

Even the offensive stars in St. Louis have bought in. Per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter said the following:

We’ve played in close ballgames before. Just scoring runs is not a good plan over the course of the season. You have to play good defense. You have to pitch. That’s how you win close games. That’s how you lead the league in wins, in my opinion.

A team that struggles with creating runs, as St. Louis does, needs to excel in run preventionsomething the Cardinals do.

“I honestly think this is how you win in the playoffs,” outfielder Jason Heyward told Goold, “so we’re going to have a lot of experience built up.”

The Cardinals may be without their bona fide ace, but they have more than made up for the loss. 

Their pitching has them on pace for a 99-win season, according to FanGraphs’ projections, and one of the best overall performances by a staff in MLB history.

It’s safe to say, no matter how many runs the Cardinals score in a given game, they’ll be darned if they don’t allow fewer.


You can follow Dan on Twitter. He’s still bitter the 2011 Phillies and their four-headed monster of aces didn’t pan out as hoped.

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5 Biggest Takeaways from Week 5’s MLB Action

Each week of baseball’s regular season brings any number of fascinating news, noteworthy developments and/or curious behavior.

The week that is about to conclude, Week 5, has been no different—and there’s still part of the weekend left for something else to happen.

In the meantime, here are a handful of the biggest takeaways from the goings-on of the past seven days.

Begin Slideshow

National League: Why Baseball Without the Designated Hitter Is Better

A hotly contested topic among the baseball world in the past week (and for quite some time now) has been whether or not the National League should change its rules to institute the use of the designated hitter. The American League adopted the DH in 1973, yet the Senior Circuit has remained surprisingly resilient through the years.

However, National League owners may be under increased pressure to make a change.

The debate was jump-started when St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, one of the elite starting pitchers in the MLB, tore his Achilles tendon running out of the batter’s box after putting the ball in play. The club announced that he would miss the rest of the season, which is a crippling blow to a St. Louis squad trying to advance to the NLCS for the fifth consecutive year.

Washington Nationals hurler Max Scherzer was the first to rally behind Wainwright’s banner. He told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that he would not be opposed to bringing the DH to the National League, saying that it would be a great way to increase scoring and make the game more entertaining.

“If you look at it from the macro side, who’d people rather see hit—Big Papi or me?” Scherzer said. “Who would people rather see, a real hitter hitting home runs or a pitcher swinging a wet newspaper? Both leagues need to be on the same set of rules.”

This logic makes sense from Mad Max—having a designated hitter batting instead of a pitcher would make the game more fun to watch and ostensibly give the fans more bang for their buck. But his initial claims were met with a flurry of other opinions, and most weren’t in agreement with his.

Madison Bumgarner was the first to publicly disagree. The San Francisco Giants left-hander also happens to be one of the best hitting pitchers in the league, and he was not afraid to come down hard on Scherzer.

This was his comment to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News about the Wainwright injury and the possibility of the DH entering National League play:

What if he got hurt pitching? Should we say he can’t pitch anymore? I hate what happened to him. He works his butt off out there. But I don’t think it was because he was hitting. What if he gets hurt getting out of his truck? You tell him not to drive anymore? That’s the way the game has to be played. I appreciate both sides of the argument and I get it. But [ending pitcher plate appearances] isn’t the way to go about [addressing] it.

That is an excellent point as well. It was an Achilles injury that Wainwright suffered. If that part of his body was going to tear, it could have been anywhere. He could just as easily have injured it pitching off the mound or covering first base as he did jogging out of the box.

One of Bumgarner‘s teammates, Jake Peavy, gave another reason why the designated hitter must stay away. He began by talking about a situation last year when Bumgarner hit against the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ Zack Greinke in the eighth inning. It was late in the season in a crucial situation, and manager Bruce Bochy didn’t have to go to a pinch hitter and then a reliever. 

“We have a distinct advantage because of what he can do at the plate,” Peavy said, per Baggarly. “We’d take a ton of strategy out of our game. The bench player is so much more important a part of the game. Managers have their say in how the game is played out.

“As pitchers, it’s about taking pride in batting and baserunning and getting a bunt down or putting it in play. If you do that better than the other pitcher, you’ve got an advantage.”

For Scherzer, even his own general manager is not on his side. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo—who gave Scherzer a $210 million contract this offseason—went on record against the DH earlier this week.

Rizzo was very adamant on a Wednesday radio appearance he made on 106.7 The Fan that he will never favor the DH.

I hate the DH. I always have hated the DH. I would hate to see the DH in the National League, and I love the National League brand of baseball. Now, I worked with the Chicago White Sox for years, and the Boston Red Sox for years in the American League, and I’m a much bigger fan of the National League style of play, with the pitcher pitching and all the strategy that that employs. 

That’s my favorite part of this whole argument. The phrase “the strategy it employs.” Personally, that is one of the things I enjoy about the game of baseball. The managers competing in a chess match throughout the ballgame is arguably the most compelling thing about baseball and the main reason I like the National League better than the American League.

In the American League, the manager does not have nearly as many factors to worry about, most notably pinch hitting for the pitcher. To illustrate this, I’ll introduce a common situation in baseball. 

Let’s say Team A is winning by two runs in the seventh inning and the pitcher is due up next with runners on first and second with one out. The manager has a tough decision on his hands: Does he leave the pitcher in the game to pitch another inning even though it likely means they won’t tack on any runs that inning, or does he elect to use a pinch hitter in an attempt to add some cushion to the lead even though that move will result in leaning heavily on the bullpen to finish the game?

An American League manager is never faced with this dilemma. All he has to do is monitor the pitcher, and when he gets tired or ineffective, put in a reliever.

The Junior Circuit also does not incorporate nearly as many situational pitching changes or as much bunting as the National League does.

Now some fans don’t really care much about some of the finer points of the game—they prefer to see guys hit the ball as far as they can in high-scoring games, and that is perfectly fine. They can stick with the American League, but the NL does not need to change its rulebook to satisfy those fans.

The final witness in this trial is someone who should know better than anyone. Cubs manager Joe Maddon has spent time in both leagues, and even though he has only been in Chicago for a few months, he has already adapted the National League style of play and is against bringing the DH to the NL.

“That’s part of the game,” Maddon said, via the Chicago Tribune, about Wainwright’s injury. “That’s the way it works. It’s unfortunate. It stinks. I like the National League the way it sets. It’s a really interesting baseball game.”

Ultimately, it will be up to NL owners on whether or not they eventually adopt the DH. They might do it sometime in the future, but they don’t need to. Their brand of baseball is more of a traditional style of play, and contrary to popular belief there are still some old-fashioned baseball fans out there who have the attention spans to watch an entire game even if substitutions and pitching changes are involved.

In my opinion, the game is much better with all nine fielders hitting for themselves. It forces players to be more well-rounded, and it makes it more interesting from a strategy standpoint. Also, it results in more intriguing scouting, as pitchers handy with the bat continue to become more and more rare. As the Giants do right now with Bumgarner, NL teams with pitchers who can hit have a tremendous advantage over their opponents, and that is nothing to sneeze at.

Either way, this is a very polarizing debate. Each side has its pros and cons, and baseball pundits, coaches and players are obviously not afraid to state their case.

Bumgarner, Peavy, Rizzo and Maddon are for the DH staying the heck away from the National League, and I wholeheartedly agree with their arguments.

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Adam Wainwright Injury: Updates on Cardinals Star’s Abdomen and Recovery

Adam Wainwright is starting 2015 the same way he ended last year: battling an injury. This time, the St. Louis Cardinals ace is reportedly dealing with an abdominal issue.     

Continue for updates.

Wainwright to Receive Exam on Abdominal Pain

Tuesday, Feb. 24

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Wainwright will return to St. Louis for an examination:

In his full report, Goold wrote the Cardinals are expecting to know by Thursday “the treatment Wainwright will require and how much time he’ll miss.”

The report includes a quote from Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak saying the team’s level of concern is “medium at this point.” It also notes that Wainwright’s abdominal issue is only prevalent when he’s working out, not when he’s pitching. 

Wainwright, who has finished in the top three for NL Cy Young voting each of the last two years, underwent arthroscopic surgery to trim cartilage in his right elbow after St. Louis lost to San Francisco in the National League Championship Series. 

The Cardinals have to be extra careful with Wainwright this year since their pitching staff has thinned out in the last 12 months. Michael Wacha is an unknown quantity after missing most of 2014. Shelby Miller was traded to Atlanta. John Lackey can eat innings, but he’s 36 years old and in the twilight of his career. 

Wainwright is the workhorse for this rotation, having thrown 468.2 innings in the regular season since 2013. He’s starting to get up there at 33 years old and will need to be protected, especially in the spring, to make it through the rigors of a 162-game season. 

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Adam Wainwright’s Value for St. Louis Cardinals Goes Far Beyond His Performance

Adam Wainwright has been the ace of the St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff for a few years. Once the understudy to Chris Carpenter, Wainwright now finds himself the veteran of the pitching staff. That role requires much more than just pitching at a high level.

Wainwright has often found himself among the top pitchers in his league statistically. A veteran of 10 years with the Cardinals, Wainwright has found himself among the top three finishers for the Cy Young Award on three separate occasions. He has won two Gold Glove Awards and represented the National League in three All-Star Games. He has even been recognized in his league’s Most Valuable Player voting, having finished in the top 20 four times in his career.

Those types of accolades make a player rise to the top of the rotation. The top spot in the rotation for a team like the St. Louis Cardinals requires a bit more.

Wainwright seems like a clubhouse leader in most aspects. You can find him talking, dancing or carrying on with any number of teammates during warm-ups or in the dugout. He is very open with his Christian beliefs. His dedication to God and his family is inspiring to many.

He also takes the time to work with the young pitchers who come through the organization. He actively seeks players out. He seems to take his role as a leader of the ballclub very seriously.

His work with his teammates is something that has become more apparent recently. Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins were traded to Atlanta this offseason for outfielder Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden. 

Speaking with Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Miller and Jenkins both had praise for the work that Wainwright put in with them. According to Cunningham, both young pitchers had a hard time coming to terms with leaving St. Louis initially but have warmed up to the idea as spring approaches.

Miller admits to Cunningham that he was quite stubborn at times while with St. Louis and was not willing to make changes. Miller credits Wainwright with encouraging him to begin throwing a sinker. It was a new pitch in Miller’s arsenal that might help him approach hitters differently. While he did not embrace it until another pitcher, Justin Masterson, introduced him to a grip he was comfortable with, he now sees the benefit in what Wainwright was teaching him.

Miller told Cunningham the pitch is “a huge pitch for me this year that hopefully is going to take me to the next level.”

Wainwright reportedly helped Jenkins out in a different way. Jenkins had altered his mechanics considerably from the approach he had in high school before he was drafted. Wainwright took the pitcher aside and encouraged him to go back to the way he used to pitch, allowing him to be more comfortable on the mound.

“I thought I had to fit in, so I started changing my mechanics, and my arm slot got a little higher, and things were a little out of sync,” Jenkins told Cunningham. “Adam Wainwright told me, ‘Hey, you are going to be who you are, so just pitch the way you want.'”

Jenkins has pitched well since reverting back to his original delivery. The Braves hope that he can continue to have a strong showing entering the 2015 season.

The Cardinals will look for Wainwright to do more of the same. His production on the mound will be paramount to the team’s future success. His work with young pitchers will continue to be important as the team looks for more prospects to mature into major league players in the near future.

Wainwright is an ace in every sense of the word. The Cardinals need him to be just that.


Transaction and award information in this article courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

Bill Ivie is the founder of I-70 BaseballFollow him on Twitter to discuss baseball anytime.

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