Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright had a 3.09 ERA through the end of August this year but then posted a 7.22 mark over the final few weeks of the season. Given that he turned 41 years old in between those two samples, some might have wondered if the veteran had merely run out of gas.
However, that wasn’t actually the case, at least according to the man himself. Wainwright logged into Twitter yesterday, acknowledging that he didn’t perform up to his own standards down the stretch and attempting to offer an explanation. The way he tells it, he was hit on the knee by a comebacker in his August 28 start against Atlanta. This affected the length of his stride, which he didn’t notice for some time, leading to domino effects in his delivery. He believes that the issues were eventually fixed but that the season ended before he got a chance to get back into proper form.
Despite the poor finish, Wainwright still posted a 3.71 ERA in 2022, making 32 starts and throwing 191 2/3 innings. Given that his Cardinal teammates Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols already announced their intention to retire after this year, many have wondered if Wainwright would join them in heading into the sunset. But he’s shown he can still be effective at the big league level and could surely get another shot in 2023 if he wants one. If he has made a decision in that regard, he hasn’t yet gone public with it.
Wainwright made his MLB debut with the Cards in 2005 and has been with them his entire big league career. In 2013, he and the club signed a five-year extension that went through the 2018 campaign. Since then, he and the team have effectively gone year to year, signing one-year deals for the past four seasons. He made $17.5MM this year on the heels of an excellent 2021 campaign that he didn’t quite match. He might have to settle for a slight pay cut to return next year, though he and the club have always been able to work out deals that work for both sides.
Jose Quintana is also heading for free agency, leaving the Cards with an on-paper rotation of Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, Steven Matz, Jordan Montgomery and Dakota Hudson. Matz and Flaherty both had injury-plagued seasons and Hudson struggled enough that he got optioned to the minors down the stretch. Given those question marks, reuniting for another spin with Wainwright would make sense for the team, as long as that’s something he wants.
Other injury notes from around the league…
- Braves right-hander Luke Jackson has missed this entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April. He seems to be on track for a return at some point next year, as the hurler himself took to Twitter to announce that he has started throwing. Now 31, Jackson had a tremendous breakout season in 2021. He threw 63 2/3 innings with a 1.98 ERA, much better than his 4.24 career mark. There might have been a bit of good luck in there, as opponents hit just .253 on balls in play against Jackson after posting marks at .311 or above in each of the previous five seasons. Nonetheless, he did post strong ground ball and strikeout rates of 52.5% and 26.8%, respectively, alongside a high walk rate of 11.1%. This was his final year of club control, meaning he’ll be heading into the open market in a few weeks. Given his ongoing recovery, he will likely have to hold a showcase for teams at some point in order to showcase his readiness for 2023.
- Royals righty Tyler Zuber missed the entirety of the 2022 season, landing on the IL in March due to a shoulder impingement and never returning. He appears to be healthy again after tweeting video of himself throwing yesterday. The 27-year-old has yet to find success at the big league level, pitching to a 5.29 ERA in 49 1/3 career innings, though he’s shown more potential in the minors. In 28 2/3 frames at Triple-A in 2021, he posted a 2.83 ERA along with a 37.1% strikeout rate and 40.4% ground ball rate. That also came with a concerning 13.8% walk rate, though he showed an ability to be effective despite that. By sitting on the 60-day IL all season, he’s earned a full year of MLB service time in 2022, though he still won’t reach arbitration eligibility this winter.