Player Spotlight: Adam Wainwright
Sometimes you just really don’t know what you’ve got until it is gone. Not only was that previous statement very cliche, it was also 100% true when it came to the injury of Adam Wainwright that sidelined him for the entire 2011 season and seemed to effect his performance for most of the first half of this season. But as his amazing second half has shown, Waino is back, and he is ready to get the Cardinals into the post season.
Adam Wainwright was a pitching prospect for his hometown Atlanta Braves, until he was traded along with Ray King, and Jason Marquis for Eli Marero and J.D. Drew, which may have been one of the greatest trades in Cardinals history. Wainwright made his MLB debut late in 2005, but his impact wasn’t really made until mid-2006 when star closer Jason Isringhausen went on the disabled list and would eventually miss the entire season/post-season. Wainwright became a go-to guy out of the bullpen and eventually became the teams closer for the last few games of the season and throughout the post season.
In that post season, Wainwright came through with two of the biggest moments in Cardinals post season history. His first and most impressive was coming through in the clutch striking out his future teammate Carlos Beltran looking, to end game 7 of the NLCS against the Mets and send the Cardinals to the World Series. It was their that Wainwright closed out the World Series and became a Champion for the first time.
After his solid rookie season, Wainwright switched back to starting where he showed his true potential. After a few solid seasons in 2007 and 2008 as a starter it was in 2009 that a star was born. In one of the biggest Cy Young upsets in history, Wainwright and teammate Chris Carpenter both missed out to Tim Lincecum who had a far less superior all around year. Wainwright finished second in the balloting in 2010 after another stellar year. It was safe to say there was no better pitcher in the NL in those two years than Wainwright, he posted a 39-19 record with an outstanding 2.53 ERA, and 425 K’s- 122 BB’s in that time frame. Wainwright also managed to win the Gold Glove in 2009 and was a first time All Star in 2010.
Heading into Spring training for 2011 the Cardinals seemed easy favorites to win the division with their two stud pitchers looking to go at another succesful season. However Wainwright required Tommy John surgery and was shut down the entire season, but remained in the clubhouse, a rarity of most guys that miss out on the season. Wainwright was there every step of the way cheering on his team and eventually watching them make history.
This season however Cardinals fans were geared up to watch Wainwright and Carpenter go at it again, this time it was Carpenter who was shut down for the season. Wainwright was not expected to carry the team like Carpenter was the year before, but some pressure was added back on to him. He struggled throughout the first half posting a 4.56 ERA and a below .500 record. But like Carpenter did a year ago, Wainwright has had a stellar second half. He has lowered his ERA to 3.65, nearly a full run difference, while getting his record above .500 (12-10). He currently leads the Cardinals with his 154 strikeouts. His ERA ranks third on the team behind Lohse and Westbrook, his WHIP (1.19) is second only to Kyle Lohse on the team, and he is tied for the second most wins on the team (12) with Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook.
If Wainwright can finish the season strong, he could possibly win 15 games and still have a great ERA and strikeout mark to follow, something that seemed impossible for him towards the beginning of the season. But more importantly his performance could propel the Cardinals to another shot at post season play. With Garcia back and apparently ready for action as he showed in his last outing, with the great performances of Lynn, Lohse, and Westbrook this tea