St. Louis Cardinals

Wainwright set to return to Cardinals’ rotation

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers.
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers. AP

Adam Wainwright is set to pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals for the first time in nearly four months when he starts Sept. 10 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Wainwright has not pitched since May 13 because of right elbow inflammation. Manager Mike Shildt said Monday that Wainwight feels “really comfortable.”

Wainwright is 1-3 with a 4.00 ERA but has made only four starts in 2018 and just one since April 17. The three-time All-Star has finished in the top three of the NL Cy Young voting four times.

Wainwright has not allowed a run in 19 innings over six minor league rehabilitation appearances since Aug. 13.

Shildt said Wainwright is expected to throw a couple of side sessions before his start. The manager does not anticipate using the right-hander out of the bullpen in the interim.

The veteran pitcher is in the final year of a contract that, this year, will pay him $19.5 million. He has refused to speculate about next season or beyond.

In the meantime, Wainwright’s season was off to an inconsistent start that included three trips to the disabled list.

He allowed just one earned run in 10 2/3 innings during spring training and struck out more batters (10) than he allowed hits (eight), but started the season on the DL after pulling a hamstring in a Grapefruit League windsprint.

Wainwright has made four starts this season, just once lasting more than five innings, while twice getting pulled in the fourth. In his last start, he threw 79 pitches in 2 1/3 innings, walking six and allowing three San Diego hits along the way.

His return to the disabled list on May 15 led to the earlier-than-expected arrival of rookie Jack Flaherty, who has been key to the Cardinals August surge toward the top of the NL wild card standings. In the last for weeks, Flaherty is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA and has struck out 31 batters in 26 innings.

Still, 11 different pitchers have made starts for St. Louis and nine have started at least three games.

Carlos Martinez, the presumptive staff ace at the season’s start, returned from his own DL stint to join the bullpen. Michael Wacha, meanwhile, hit a snag in his recovery with an abbreviated start at double-A Springfield that lasted less than three innings.

Wainwright will assume the rotation spot most recently filled by Luke Weaver or Daniel Poncedeleon.

Weaver, who has a 4.59 ERA, got a no decision in a game the Cardinals eventually lost to the Cincinnati Reds Sunday. He lasted four innings, allowing two runs and two hits while walking five.

Poncedeleon took the loss the night before, allowing three runs on five hits and a walk in 3 1/3 innings.

Flaherty got the start against the Washington Nationals Monday. The likely rotation for the remainder of this week includes Miles Mikolas and John Gant against Washington Tuesday on Wednesday, left-hander Austin Gomber at Detroit Friday night and either Weaver or Poncedeleon Saturday.