Sunday will mark the first postseason game played in St. Louis in three years, but Cardinals manager Mike Schildt will be trusting the game’s start to a relatively practiced postseason hand. Redbirds legend Adam Wainwright–a free-agent-to-be this offseason–will be taking the ball for Schildt, who is counting on the pitcher’s experience with what promises to be a raucous Busch Stadium atmosphere.
“You have to account for some of the vibe that’s going on out there,” Schildt told Anne Rogers of MLB.com today, “You have to be able to calm your nerves and you have to be able to control your adrenaline, because I’ve seen it where guys go out there and they’re feeling on top of the moon and their adrenaline is rushing, and two innings later they’re out of gas.”
As Rogers notes, Wainwright will be making his 24th appearance in a postseason game (13 starts), after first appearing in the national October spotlight in 2006 as a relief ace for then-manager Tony La Russa’s World Series-winning Cards team. That year saw a 24-year-old Wainwright begin his playoff career with 9.2 scoreless innings, and he has only followed up that initial success by compiling a nifty 3.03 ERA across 89.0 career postseason innings. This year marked the now-38-year-old’s first season over the 30-start mark since 2016, and this October should provide him yet another opportunity to assure the Cardinals–and rival clubs–that he deserves a healthy free agent guarantee this winter.
More notes from around the National League in anticipation of Sunday’s NLDS doubleheader…
- The Associated Press is circulating a story involving Wainwright’s teammate Ryan Helsley, who did not take kindly to witnessing the en masse enactment of the Braves’ “Tomahawk Chop” tradition during Game 1 of the NLDS this Thursday (link). In comments originally made to writer/hero Derrick Goold, Helsley, who is a member of the Cherokee nation, called the “Chop” “disappointing” and “disrespectful”. “[The tradition] just depicts them in this kind of caveman-type people way who aren’t intellectual. They are a lot more than that. It’s not me being offended by the whole mascot thing. It’s not. It’s about the misconception of us, the Native Americans, and how we’re perceived in that way, or used as mascots.” Of course, with the NLDS tied 1-1 heading to St. Louis for Game 3 of the best-of-five NLDS, it’s possible Helsley could have a say in preventing the series returning to Atlanta. The 25-year-old Oklahoman pitched to a 2.95 ERA in 36.2 innings in 2019, his rookie season.
- Giants executive Farhan Zaidi already made MLBTR headlines today, when he gave some insight into the team’s ongoing search for a new GM. In a separate set of quotes relayed by NBC’s Alex Pavlovic, Zaidi conducted something of a performance self-assessment in regard to his work at the 2019 trade deadline–and it’s clear Zaidi is a fair critic (link). “I feel like I alternate nights losing sleep about not potentially buying at the deadline and trying to improve our chances this year, or selling more at the deadline and setting ourselves up better for 2020 and going forward,” Zaidi admitted to Pavlovic. It stands to reason that the veteran baseball man would be left with some cognitive dissonance over his team’s activity this summer, being that the club took something of a walk-the-line approach in their dealings.
While San Francisco held onto impending free agents Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith (and sacrificed the potential prospect assets they might have acquired in a deal involving those players), the team also shaved down the bullpen by sending away Drew Pomeranz, Sam Dyson, and Mark Melancon in separate deals. To be fair, Zaidi was in perhaps the toughest position of any club executive heading into this year’s deadline, as his expected-to-flounder 2019 Giants ripped off a stunning run of success in advance of the Jul. 31 push-or-shove precipice. After playing to their expected level for much of the year, Bruce Bochy’s boys of summer went 19-6 in July, ultimately forcing their front office leader into something of a compromising position. The Giants went 22-36 from Aug. 1 onward, ultimately finishing with a 77-85 record.