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Monday, October 13, 2014

Cardinals Injury Update: Team to limit Adam Wainwright's innings in 2015

By on 10/13/2014 05:00:00 PM

After spending the 2011 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, St. Louis Cardinals ace right-hander Adam Wainwright threw 667.1 regular season innings and another 59 "high stress" postseason innings from 2012-14, but twice failed to get through the fifth inning this October. Consequently, the team plans to assess and possibly reduce his workload in 2015, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

As reported here, the pitcher admitted his elbow is not 100%, although he insists the problem is not his ulnar collateral ligament. Goold reports that manager Mike Matheny described Wainwright as “very aggressive” Sunday when he came to the manager to tell him he felt improved. Matheny said Wainwright will start Game 5 of the NLCS.  As for next season, the Cardinals are rethinking
how they prepare Wainwright for 2015 and perhaps how they use him. Wainwright already had a reduced schedule this past spring, and a further reduction is possible. The Cardinals also could prescribe rest periods for Wainwright next season, as they have done in two-week increments for the younger pitchers. Wainwright has defined himself by a pursuit to lead the league in innings, but the club will at least discuss a way to reduce his regular-season work so he isn’t spent by October.
Wainwright, 32, a three-time All-Star, went 20-9 with a 2.38 ERA (154 ERA+) including five complete games, striking out 179 while walking 50 in 227 innings for the 2014 season. He would be a strong Cy Young contenter except for the other-worldly performance of Clayton Kershaw. As the Cardinals battled for the NL Central Division, Wainwright made five September starts, winning all five. However, after not pitching since September 22, he labored through 4.1 innings on October 3 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowing six earned runs and throwing 102 pitches. (The Cardinals eventually won the game 10-9). He started the first game of the NLCS against the San Francisco Giants, again struggling through 4.2 innings (24 batters) on 98 pitches, allowing three runs (two earned), striking out two and walking three. (The Cardinals lost, 3-0.)

After missing the 2011 season with Tommy John surgery, Wainwright threw 198 regular season innings in 2012, and a league-leading 241 innings in 2013. He is a two-time All-Star, two-time Gold-Glove winner and perennial Cy Young and MVP candidate. In his nine-year major league career (all with the Cardinals), Wainwright has a record of 119-66, with a 3.01 ERA. Although he was the loser in Games 1 and 5 of the 2013 World Series, and despite his performance in 2014, Wainwright has compiled a postseason record of 20-11 with an ERA of 3.17 facing 317 of the best hitters in the game. Although he is unlikely to come close to 300 wins, if he continues on his current trajectory Wainwright will have a case for the Hall of Fame.

Wainwright was picked in the first round of the Year 2000 draft by the Atlanta Braves. The Braves traded him as a minor-leaguer in 2003 (with Ray King and Jason Marquis) to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for J.D. Drew and Eli Marrero. Wainwright made his debut on September 11, 2005. He is signed with the Cardinals though 2018 on a 5-year $97.5 million contract.

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