If you will it, Dude, it is no dream

It was around this time last year that Adam Wainwright got turned around. It’s hard to remember now, but in mid-May of 2007, I was receiving emails from fans suggesting that Wainwright was a failure as a starter, that the “experiment” should end and that he should be returned to the bullpen.

The chorus grew loudest after a brutal start in Los Angeles, when Wainwright got knocked around. After the game — May 15, 2007, to be exact — Wainwright gave one of his more interesting postgame interviews. He said he felt fine physically — but that in some PREVIOUS starts, he’d had some arm soreness. That it was the first time all season he’d really felt right.

After that game, he took off. For the remainder of the year, Wainwright was the pitcher that his believers expected him to be, and frankly maybe even better. He repeatedly pointed to that game — and, in fact, still does point to that game — as the moment when the season turned around for him. It was the kick in the behind he needed.

Fast-forward to tonight, when he was as good as I’ve seen him. For the complete package, his entire repertoire, I can’t think of a night when it’s ALL been this good. Fastball down in the zone and for strikes. Slider in the strike zone and as a chase pitch. Curveball getting ugly swings as well as freezing hitters. Changeup effective and in the mix. It was beautiful.

And so I got to thinking — just how good has this guy been? And thanks to the amazing day-by-day database at BaseballMusings.com, I found the following:

Since that Dodger Stadium start, Wainwright has made 35 starts. He’s pitched 236 1/3 innings, more than 6 2/3 per start. He has a 2.93 ERA, 164 strikeouts, 65 walks, and 18 home runs allowed. That’s more than a full season of full-on ace-caliber pitching.

Then I decided to look at it another way. Let’s make it exactly a season. And so I took a look at where Wainwright stands over the last 12 months — since May 28, 2007.

During that span, basically the past full season of baseball, Wainwright has the second-best ERA of any starting pitcher in all the Major Leagues (minimum 150 innings). His ERA in that time is 2.93, behind only Brandon Webb (2.77 — dude is pretty good) and ranking just ahead of Scott Kazmir, Jake Peavy and Carlos Zambrano. Perhaps just as striking, over his past full season, Wainwright has thrown 224 1/3 innings.

The hope was that Wainwright would become a front-of-the-rotation type. The scouting reports, for the most part, suggested No. 2 starter type. Over the past year, though, he’s as ace as ace gets. Pretty remarkable stuff.

-M.

40 Comments

You are absolutely right. He is lights out good on the mound and that doesn’t even count his offensive contributions. And the great news is we have him locked up for 4 years with 2 more option years. He will contribute a lot to the cards being contenders for the next few years if he can keep his arm healthy. GREAT SITUATION FOR THE BIRDS.

Dude, I was at the game last night and was absoutely marveled. (dont know if thats a word… but it is now) I was excited to go to get a chance to see our #1 pitch… and he delivered as usual.

Wainwright is definitely a bright spot for the Cards.
Just cannot imagine where the team would be this year without him. Even his no decisions were well pitched games for the most part.

Wainwright has turned out to be a blessing for the Cardinals, in light of Carp getting hurt last year. Just think… when Carp, Pineiro, and the rest of the rotation are healthy, we’re gonna be a good team. GO BIRDS!

-er; #1 pitch-er. Sorry ’bout that.

Oh man, dude. I wanna see Wainy pitch so freakin bad. Last year when I went to St.Louis I missed his start by ONE DAY!!! I thought I was timing it out right, but LaRussa jacks with the rotation so much it’s nearly impossible for me to plan my trip ahead of time and see who I wanna see. Instead of AW last year, we saw Looper v. Marquis on July 27. Looper pitched wll, Duncan hit a grand salamie, and Pujols added a 2-run shot. All in all, it was a fun game to watch…And the only win of that series.

Wainwright has blossomed into the ace that we were hoping for. I think we can remove that “ace de facto” tag that we were giving him in ST and just call him an ace.

Went to Opening Day…saw him pitch 2 or 3 innings that never happened…

*sniffle* Best…2 or 3…innings of my life, man… *sniffle*

Guy is amazing, a class act on and off the field. Proud that he is a Cardinal the same way Braves fans are happy Smoltz is on their team, or Astros fans are happy Berkman is on theirs.

Totally off subject. I just read about Mark Mulder and how he doesn’t think the left are is going to give him the mechanics. He’s becoming really frustrated obviously. How much precedence is there in pitchers coming back from an injury and switching arms? I’ve even heard of some guy in the 20s who would use both arms. Is it or would it be an option to explore having Mulder pitch right handed? (Please don’t throw expletives saying i’m an idiot).

Absolutely not. His right arm isn’t conditioned for going 6-7 innings every 5 days. It would take even longer for that to happen than his injury recovery.

Fly, you’re an idiot. Naw, I’m just kidding. He was kidding when he said that though. And a guy who can pitch with both arms would be very rare, as well as very valueable, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

Speaking of “no dream,” how about Mather’s debut in The Show tonight? Oh man, what that must feel like …

I’m sorry, but there’s a person in a group I’m in who currently just made a fool of himself. I know this is off topic, and I apologize for that, but can you please tell me your thoughts. This is basically what he said, “Chris Perez should be the closer for the Cardinals because he’s only given up 2 hits in 6 innings and no runs.” Basically what he’s saying is 6 innings determines whether someone is going to be good in the majors or not.

Well, we won’t have Duncan to kick around for a while. Have to find a new whipping boy on the Cards roster? Maybe not, it looks pretty solid right now. Let’s hope Dunc gets his swing back soon! If any of the long list of recovering Cards pitchers make it back to the bigs, then the Cards are going to be in the enviable position of having pitching to shop around for position players. A good middle infielder with power would top my list. A package that could offer some combo of Piniero, Duncan, Thompson, Clement, Kennedy/Izturis might attract some genuine interest.

I personally wouldn’t trade Kennedy, Izturis, or Clement. I like all three as Cardinals…at least until I see Clement pitch :)

I wouldn’t trade Izturis, he has been a plus this season. Clement…who would give up anything for him right now? Duncan and Reyes seem to be two big trade chips, and Nick Stavinoah could be a good trade piece too.

With our abundance of outfield talent, is it possible Mather could be traded or do we keep these guys in AAA? Our outfield isn’t exactly aging, and we could use another bat in the infield. I guess if you trade Duncan, you keep Mather. But if Mather is performing better, he gets you more in return than Duncan. Reyes is still a question to other teams too. He’s always fairly dominant at AAA, then mostly dominated in the Bigs. We’ll have to give up some value to get value. I’m sick of trades where each team gets re-tread projects. Let’s get some value!! Longer term solutions at middle infield and third base.

Only thing that you have to ask is…who is out there to get?

You never know what might become available in a mid-season trade. I think it will likely depend on how much a contender might need another pitcher for a stretch run. If another club could get a starter and a reliever plus a journeyman infielder to plug the hole given up by dealing a quality middle infielder, it could work.

how the hell did we lose this game tonight????…..wainwright pitched great but you could tell he couldn’t find the strike zone, and i believe he should have been taken out…….you just can’t lose a game that he pitches so good in and when the cubs are trailing.

pdub… I’m sure there are some here who know more about the state of the bullpen at the moment but, to my mind, it was unfathomable that Wainwright was left in after the first two batters. However, while my feeling is that TLR often sticks with starters too long and then uses relievers for one or two batters way too often, I’m also hardly objective on these things since I’ve still not recovered from the treatment of Ozzie Smith, much less the regular and ongoing ruination of so many good young pitchers.

problem wasn’t necessarily that Wainwright was left in…the problem was choosing to throw a fastball over the inside part of the plate to a pinch hitter with the bases loaded. They should have known a pinch hitter is going up there hacking at the first thing he could drive and pull.

(and why was the shift on later when our right handed pitcher is throwing a ball with movement down and away to a right handed hitter? play that striaght up, for cryin’ out loud)

What a disappointment last night! We’re now 3 1/2 back of the Cubs when we shouldn’t be behind at all! What is this about Parisi starting on Thursday in DC? After last week’s disaster, I hoped he would never start again for the Cards.

So monti7olen, is your strategy this: When a pitcher has a bad start, never start him again? That’s a brilliant strategy. Okay, when Wainwright has another bad start, lets not start him again. Cut Parisi some slack for crying out loud. It was his first time, ever, in the major leagues starting a game.

Parisi will be fine…but he’s not Wainwright…and he’s young…plus, honestly, it will probably be easier getting his next start on the road.

I wasn’t by any means comparing Parisi to Wainwright, I was just using Wainwright as an example to get my point across.

Kevin, I was watching that game at work in the meeting room with a co-worker. After the second walk that loaded the bases, I looked at my co-worker and said, “He better not throw a first-pitch fastball to this guy coming off the bench. He’ll be swininging for a tie game.” I said that, because AW had thrown a lot of first pitch fastballs already in the game. Sure enough AW threw it, and sure enough he hit it out! So disappointed. Even I knew a better pitch selection than that. That slam is on AW and Yadi, or if it was called from the dugout then it’s on the coaches.

yeah, I was saying the same thing…”Don’t throw a fastball, don’t throw a fastball, don’t throw a…oh crap…”

It’s good to hear the news about Matt Clement. Heck, it’s good to hear ANY news about him. I thought he just needed extended time to build arm strength. Now I’m hoping to see him pitch against the Naturals in Springdale.

Uh oh. Albert got hit by a pitch and was lifted for a pinch runner. Is he hurt?

SLF and KR, as far as I know, Yadi looks to the dugout before every pitch… tho I watch less than you two, and don’t know exactly what’s communicated between the dugout and the our backstop.

eh…I’m not real worried about it…and I really wasn’t looking for a place or person to blame…just pointing out that “leaving Waino in the game” is not, to me, the reason we lost that game…pitchers make mistakes, and Waino did a great job that night…as did Yadi…

and although he looks to the dugout before every pitch to see if there is anything they want him to do…throw down, hold the ball, etc….calling pitches is not done from the dugout on every pitch…

However, Duncan did come out and have a meet-n-greet with Waino and Yadi before that pitch…

All-in-all, it’s just one of those things that can and does happen in a game like Baseball…i just get irritated with all the people that are waiting to jump down Tony’s throat everytime a decision doesn’t work out.

Me, personally, I think Tony should have taken Wainwright out before the bases were even loaded, I think I’d of taken him out after 2 people got on, that’s just me though.

I’m with Crazy – WW was not the same pitcher in the seventh as he was before that inning. Was the bull pen entirely unavailable? When the second walk loaded the bases, it told me Waino had lost his command. Again, I wonder what was the limitation in the pen? Every now and then a game is lost that should not be. This is one of them. Hope it does not start a tailspin for the team or WW.

I also think that Perez should be the closer unless Izzy can come back and be the closer he has been in the past. I really believe Franklyn is a set up man and not a bonifide closer. I think the way he lost the game against the Nats. proves that. I also can’t understand why the powers that be keep bringing up different youngsters from AAA who are all right handers. They have tried Reyes, Himinez, Parisi, and now, Boggs. Why won’t they bring up the young left hander Garcia and give him a chance? They don’t have a single left hander in the rotation. He can’t possibly do any worse than the afore-mentioned hurlers. What are they waiting For???

Boggs is arguably the top starter in our farm system, and it was his turn to pitch in memphis, so he’d be most available. Garcia’s time will be coming soon, just give him time.

Also, Boggs has had 2 innings of experience, and you’re implying that he shouldn’t be up right now? Give him a chance to start.

Also, Frankie has blown only 1 save since coming into the role after izzy’s departure. I think he’s done a fine job in a role that he isn’t accustomed to. I don’t see the need to rush Perez into the closer’s role, especially since this month hitters are hitting over 300 against him.

I did not say Frankie couldn’t close for a while-I said he is not a bonifide closer at this time. The man is 33 years old. You don’t start closing at that age, unless you are a Dennis Eckersley and he is not. What I am saying is that you need to take a young pither who can throw 95-97 mies an hour and give him a chance to close. If he blows a save or two, it certainly wouldn’t be any worse than what the others have done this year. If it weren’t for the blown saves this year, the Cards would be in first place. Can they keep doing that for the rest of the year and have us even end up as the wild card? I doubt it. As far as Garcia goes, I am saying that the Cards have tried Reyes, Jiminez, Parisi, and others several times and they have never gotten the job done. You say wait, Garcia’s time will come. I say that the Cards have a chance to win this year, so what are you wanting to wait for. He is 22 and there are rookie pithers who are younger that other clubs have given a chance this year and they have done very well, thank you. We need a left hander, so I say give him his chance. I have been a Cardinal fan for 64 years. It’s not like I am pulling against them. I’m just tired of seeing the same pithers brought up and getting their brains beaten out and then sent right back to AAA. I say Garcia’s time is now, especially if Wainright or Wellemeyer has to go on the DA.

I don’t really see the Cardinals losing a lot of games, do you? We’ve been winning more games than we’ve been losing. We’re 2 1/2 games out of first. You say the Cardinals could be in first if not for the blown saves, you forget to mention that’s because of Isringhausen. And not to mention it’s kind of hard to get into first and maintain it when the Cubs have been playing like they have. And in all honesty who cares whether the guy is a left hander or a right hander? If they pitch effectively, why does it matter? I’d rather have an entire starting rotation of righties that are doing good than a starting rotation of 3 righties doing good and 2 lefties doing bad. Bog has pitched 2 innings in the majors, and yet you’re already counting him out? How are you supposed to know how he’s going to pitch unless you give him a chance?

It’s not like he’s starting a new career, just taking over for now. He isn’t even doing it for the rest of the year, it’s very temporary, until Izzy shows he is back.

My point is that Franklin IS GETTING THE JOB DONE! If he starts to blow more and more saves, then yeah bring in Perez. But if he is getting the job done, don’t change it. You don’t fix what isn’t broken.

And Boggs hasn’t even had a shot yet, he’s been more groomed for the role at this point than Garcia.

A lefthander isn’t needed, a quality starter is. I;d rather it be 5 quality righthanders than 4 righthanders that are good and a lefty in there just because he is a lefty.

Garcia has only had 6 starts at AAA, and his time is now? I’m willing to wait with him to make sure that he is ready. Boggs’ time is now for his starting debut, Garcia will probably get a chance later this season or next. There’s absolutely no need to rush him at this point.

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