The Cardinals announced Wednesday that they’ve placed right-hander Adam Wainwright and catcher Andrew Knizner on the injured list and optioned righty James Naile to Triple-A Memphis. Wainwright lands on the 15-day IL due to a shoulder strain — as manager Oli Marmol indicated last night — while Knizner heads to the 10-day IL after taking a foul ball to the groin in last night’s game. In a series of corresponding moves, St. Louis recalled catcher Ivan Herrera, righty Dakota Hudson and lefty Zack Thompson from Memphis.
Wainwright, 41, has had a disastrous start to the final season of an otherwise exceptional career. Through his first 11 starts, he’s been clobbered for a 7.66 ERA in 51 1/3 frames, with a career-worst 11% strikeout rate, a career-low 86.3 mph average fastball velocity, a career-high 1.74 HR/9 mark and a 7.5% walk rate that registers as his highest level since 2019.
Those struggles notwithstanding, Wainwright emphasized to reporters that he believes he’ll pitch again this season and that he has more left in the tank (link via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). However, after declaring his plan to return this season, Wainwright also candidly acknowledged that he simply isn’t healthy enough to pitch up to expectations right now.
“I’ve come back from much worse, much worse — but it is impacting my stuff,” Wainwright told the Cardinals beat (via Goold). “…There’s no denying it. Can’t hide it. I can talk myself into anything. I’ve done that a lot. I’ve made a career out of it. Right now, it’s not fair for me to put the team in that spot.”
Knizner, 28, was down for a spell after the unfortunately placed foul-tip last night but initially remained in the game. He eventually was pulled from the contest and transported to a local emergency room for further evaluation, He was eventually released last night, per Goold, and the team will likely provide an update with additional details on his status later today.
In 35 games and 115 plate appearances this year, Knizner has served as the primary backup to Willson Contreras. He’s shown some pop, already swatting a career-high five homers while turning in a career-best .191 ISO (slugging minus batting average). However, Knizner is hitting .227/.254/.418 on the whole, and he’s seen both his walk and strikeout rates (3.5% and 28.7%, respectively), careen in the wrong direction this year.
Herrera, 23, has more than earned a look in the big leagues, slashing .308/.432/.557 in 227 plate appearances at the Triple-A level. A well-regarded catching prospect, he was long expected to be Yadier Molina’s heir in St. Louis before the Cards bucked expectations and signed Contreras to a five-year contract this past offseason.
Hudson, 28, lost his rotation spot late last year and hasn’t won it back in 2023 despite considerable problems on the Cardinals’ starting staff. The sinker specialist has started 11 games in Memphis but is sitting on a 6.00 ERA through just 48 innings. His ground-ball rate is a strong 53.7%, and his 7.5% walk rate is also better than average, but Hudson’s 17.3% strikeout rate is below average. A .416 average on balls in play points to some rotten luck, but such issues are only magnified when a pitcher can’t miss bats at even an average level.