It appears that St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, one of the most successful hurlers in the history of the storied franchise, will get the unceremonious ending to his career we hoped he could avoid.
The Birds put Wainwright on the 60-day disabled list which means he's out until at least the middle of July. But we may have seen him make his last appearance in the Cardinals rotation.
Oddly, the Redbirds said that an examination of Wainwright's pitching elbow were "inconclusive." So, if you don't know what's wrong, why commit to benching a player for two months? I suspect it's because the Cardinals think their former ace is simply used up. So they parked him out of the way and will pursue other options like younger hurlers Jack Flaherty, John Gant, Dakota Hudson and Austin Gomber. It just a guess, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Birds told Wainwright he was out of the rotation in hopes that he would retire — but the tenacious hurler wouldn't go for that, so they cleared a roster spot for someone else by moving Wainwright from the short term DL to the 60-day variety.
If this is it for Wainwright, he'll finish an impressive fifth on the Cardinals all-time wins list (147) behind Bob Gibson (251), Jesse Haines (210), Bob Forsch (163) and Bill Sherdel (153). One more decent season and Waino might have made it to third. He's second on the strikeouts list behind only Gibby.
Barring a miraculous recovery, he'll probably only get a tip of the cap final start or two if the Cardinals can somehow remain in contention. If they can't, they might find some playing time for him as a courtesy. But they could place a higher priority on getting some experience for their young prospects. I'd hate to think the worst start of his career — a game in which he couldn't make it out of the third inning while walking six batters — will be the last time we see him.
As is often the case, it seems that fans forget just how great players once were when they reach their twilight years. Wainwright has been the target of social media assaults for the last two years in which writers call for his banishment from the roster. It's a shame because it wasn't that long ago that Uncle Charlie was on the short list every year for Cy Young consideration. From 2009-14, Wainwright was 92-50 — and average of 18 wins a year — with a 2.83 earned run average and 1.11 base runners allowed per inning. Over those six years, he finished second for the Cy Young twice and third two more times. As great as Chris Carpenter was in his heyday, over the long run, Wainwright was better. That's saying a lot.
I don't think we can hope at this point that Wainwright will recover and regain his old form. All we have left is that he can come back to the active roster and make a good start or two before retiring at the end of the season.