The Cardinals are counting on Adam Wainwright to make the move today from the club's biggest cheerleader to its best starting pitcher.
He makes his first major league start since 2010 -- when we was 20-11 with a 2.42 ERA -- thanks to a torn ligament in his pitching elbow suffered in 2011 spring training.
Wainwright showed up for spring training with no restrictions on his throwing and seems to be at 100 percent -- although rust and other mechanical problems can sometimes be an issue for Tommy John surgery patients. But Waino has been ready to go for a long time -- remember, he wanted to be activated in time to be placed on the post-season roster last year. But the Redbirds brass wisely told him to take a chill pill.
He's a huge addition to the mix. But Wainright doesn't have to win the Cy Young Award in 2012 in order for the Birds to have a chance.
Cardinals fans and pundits alike seem to be putting a lot of pressue on Wainwright to carry the team on his back to play the role that Chris Carpenter played down the stretch and in the post-season. But let's not forget that Carpenter started the 2011 season terribly. It wasn't all his fault as the defense and bullpen let him down. But through the first third of the season his starts resulted in a 1-7 record.
What the Birds really need is for Wainwright to be decent -- and to get better as the season goes on -- while Carpenter recovers from the nerve issue that currently has him on the shelf so he can pitch in sometime before the All-Star Break and then be ready to go for the rest of the season.