Perhaps the long-term view of St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright’s 2014 will include an appreciation of the fact that the right-hander performed at a high level while not right physically during the second half of the season. With the discomfort increasing in each post-All-Star break start, he dealt with what he called “the worst pain” of his entire career to date.
Following the season, during which the 32-year-old went 20-9 with a 2.38 ERA, he underwent an elbow cleanup procedure that has apparently addressed the problem.
Against that backdrop, what Wainwright accomplished in 2014 was nothing short of amazing. SABR member Bill Deane offered the following data points to drive home the matter.
“Wainwright hurled three complete-game shutouts to tie for the major league lead in that category. In addition, he started nine of the Cards’ 18 combined whitewashes – making a total of 12 shutouts in which Wainwright was the starting pitcher.”
Unfortunately, only three of those 12 Wainwright scoreless outings came after his All-Star Game start. In the first half, Wainwright went 12-4, 1.83. His second half was 8-5, 3.24, good for many, but not for him.
In a season in which the ongoing struggles of the Cardinals offense often made for a small margin of error for the pitching staff, Wainwright was clearly up for the challenge – and even more so when he was healthy.
Imagine what he could do if pain-free for an entire season.
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