Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright left Sunday night’s start after 4 1/3 innings due to an injury later diagnosed by the team as tightness in his left hamstring. The injury occurred when Wainwright was running the bases after doubling in the previous inning, as per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter links). Manager Mike Shildt told Goold and other media that Wainwright will miss at least one start, and the veteran righty will go to St. Louis on Monday for further tests to determine the severity of the injury.
Wainwright ended up allowing three runs to the Cubs during his abbreviated start on Sunday, giving the 37-year-old a 4.46 ERA, 7.77 K/9, and 48.8% grounder rate over 70 2/3 frames this season. He has already far surpassed the 40 1/3 innings he tossed in an injury-marred 2018 season, and while his one-year contract to return to the Cards carried a number of incentives related to relief pitching, Wainwright has been deployed solely out of the rotation.
Never a particularly hard-thrower, Wainwright’s 89.5mph average fastball velocity this season is a new career low, and his 42.1% hard-hit ball rate is far and away the highest of his 14 MLB seasons. Still, all that hard contact hasn’t hurt Wainwright to any huge extent, as his .327 xwOBA is actually lower than his .333 wOBA.
All told, Wainwright is on pace for a decent bounce-back season, though his overall unspectacular numbers are par for the course within a Cards rotation that has been pretty average across the board. If an IL stint is required, all eyes will turn to top pitching prospect Alex Reyes as a potential fill-in candidate, as Reyes is reportedly close to a return to the big leagues even though his Triple-A numbers this season leave a lot to be desired.
Genesis Cabrera or Daniel Ponce de Leon could also make spot starts, or the Cardinals could experiment with bullpen games or an opener. A decision will have to be made quickly, however, as the Cards are in the midst of a tough stretch of schedule that sees them play 18 games in as many days.