Results tagged ‘ Adam Wainwright ’
Greetings from partly-cloudy, warm and muggy Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals begin a very brief three-game homestand.
* Kyle Lohse threw on Tuesday for the second time since aggravating his right forearm injury. He stretched it out to 120 feet, and said he put more into the throws. He also reported feeling better today than he did on Sunday, the day of his first throw.
A date for a mound session is still somewhat uncertain, but it’s definitely getting closer.
“We’ll probably do this a couple more times [so they can] make sure everything is good and I come back strong tomorrow,” Lohse said. “We’ll see how that turns out and hopefully get on a bullpen in the next couple days or a week or whatever.”
* Khalil Greene has not yet been activated, but the day is getting closer. According to two sources (not to mention the MiLB.com Gameday presentation of tonight’s Memphis game), Greene is not with the Memphis club. Greene has played two games at shortstop and two games at third base for Memphis, going 6-for-15.
* The Cardinals will not skip Brad Thompson on Friday. Instead, they’ll use yesterday’s off day to give the entire rotation an extra day of rest. Thompson will pitch Friday at Kansas City, followed by Chris Carpenter on Saturday and Adam Wainwright on Sunday. That means Wainwright would pitch at home the following weekend against Minnesota, rather than at the Mets on June 26. Projecting it far out, both Carpenter and Wainwright would pitch in the Giants series, then Carpenter would pitch at Cincinnati and Wainwright in the opener at Milwaukee. They’d each get a start in the final series before the All-Star break, at Wrigley Field.
* Meanwhile, Thompson remains safe in his spot for the foreseeable future, that is as long as Lohse is out.
Here’s TLR’s comment:
“I think the idea is to pitch the best guy that you have. And based on his opportunities, there’s nobody better than Brad. When Lohse comes back, then you’re going to pick the best five. And if Brad’s outpitching somebody, then somebody in the rotation will go in the bullpen. It’s always the best five. Unless they’re really close and one guy fits the bullpen better than the other guy.”
Today’s playlist, well, you probably could have guessed the theme:
The Supremes: “Reflections”
Four Tops: “Reach Out I’ll Be There”
Temptations: “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”
Stevie Wonder: “I Wish”
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles: “Tears of a Clown”
“Just my thoughts, man, right or wrong…”
(i.e., what follows is my opinion, my opinion only, no statement on behalf of anyone else, etc etc etc)
The Cardinals must resist the temptation to use Adam Wainwright in relief. It just doesn’t make sense.
The difference in value between an elite starter and even an excellent reliever is huge. And make no mistake, Wainwright has established himself as not merely a quality starter, but an elite one. You don’t mess with that. You take advantage of it, because there just aren’t many guys who bring what he brings.
Besides, simply by going in the rotation, Wainwright will essentially take the place of one reliever every five days.
When Chris Carpenter returns, it’s clear he’ll take the No. 5 spot, most recently held by Mitchell Boggs. When Wainwright returns, the Cards have three viable options to bump from the rotation: Joel Pineiro, Braden Looper and Todd Wellemeyer. Obviously Kyle Lohse will continue starting.
Pineiro has averaged 5.9 innings per start. Wellemeyer has averaged 5.8. Looper has averaged 5.7. Wainwright? Try 7.05 innings per start. Putting aside effectiveness, the increase in innings makes a difference in itself. Wainwright likely won’t go seven in his first start or two, but assuming he’s recovered, he’ll be up to that level before long.
And there’s also a difference in effectiveness. Wellemeyer in particular has struggled recently. Since he returned from his elbow trouble, he has a 5.51 ERA, has averaged 5.4 innings per start and the Cardinals have gone 1-5. Wellemeyer was outstanding early this year, but it is clear that he hasn’t fully returned to effectiveness since the injury. It’s not unreasonable to think that pitching fewer innings, as a reliever, might benefit him greatly.
Oh, and one other thing: Wainwright doesn’t want to go back to the bullpen. It’s not as though he’d make a big fuss if the move were made, but you can bet he wouldn’t be happy about it.
* Chris Duncan is on the disabled list with what has alternately been called a bulging disc and a pinched nerve in his neck. Joe Mather has been recalled from Memphis and is present and available.
* Adam Wainwright threw off a mound today for the first time since his finger injury. He anticipates a quick path back to the active roster, possibly as soon as 2 1/2 weeks (ie, the series at Wrigley). Also, for the conspiracy theorists, he dismissively laughed at the notion of returning in relief.
* Chris Carpenter threw his normal between-starts bullpen today and even took batting practice.
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.
UPDATE — We’ve got a story going up on the site shortly, co-written by Alyson Footer of Astros.com and myself, that basically goes over everything. Backe and Pujols have some history, so there’s no doubt that played into what happened. It seems to me that for MOST people involved in this deal, it’s more or less over.
Weird sequence at Minute Maid Park this afternoon. Evidently at least some Astros folks were unhappy about Pujols’ slide into J.R. Towles at home plate last night. According to Towles, Pujols called after the game yesterday to apologize, and from talking to Towles, it definitely seemed that he at least had no hard feelings.
TLR said he didn’t even think twice about the slide, but that Towles needed to be sure to give guys a bigger piece of the plate to slide into. Towles said he believes he allows plenty of room. Then Pujols refused to discuss it at all in the clubhouse.
So basically it seemed to be more or less over. And then as the Astros were leaving the field after BP, some kind of disagreement arose between guys in the two different shades of red. I was up in the press box, unfortunately, but it was very clear through binocs that Brandon Backe was extremely displeased about something, and the guy who seemed to be on the receiving end of his ire was Pujols.
It didn’t escalate into anything, stayed with about six guys in one spot, and certainly didn’t move past words into anything physical, but Backe was clearly extremely unhappy. The Astros ‘clubhouse is closed at this minute, so the Houston scribes can’t get in to hear the home team’s side of things. And Pujols is in the midst of BP; odds of getting him to say anything before the game starts are virtually nil.
Anyway, other pregame tidbits, or as TLR says, the baseball and not the BS.
* Joel Pineiro got here from New Orleans today, did his running and feels he’s ready for his next start to be a big league start. But according to TLR, the decision has not yet been made and may not be made until tomorrow. Thompson is listed as the Sunday pitcher in the game notes, but I’m told that doesn’t really mean anything.
* Cesar Izturis got the day off, with Aaron Miles at SS.
* Adam Wainwright headed out early, getting an earlier flight to San Francisco rather than waiting for the charter. He left the ballpark around 4 pm rather than flying in the middle of the night for his start tomorrow.
* TLR said they have a plan for what to do with the rotation after Monday’s off day, but didn’t divulge it. They could bump Wainwright up to go on his regular fifth day, or give everybody the extra day of rest.
* STL lineup: Schumaker RF, Duncan LF, Pujols 1B, Ankiel CF, Glaus 3B, Kennedy 2B, Molina C, Looper P, Miles SS
* HOU lineup: Bourn CF, Pence RF, Berkman 1B, Lee LF, Tejada SS, Blum 3B, Loretta 2B, Towles C, Sampson P