When Wainwright Becomes Wainwrong

When a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals gives up six runs in five innings, it’s a bad night at the office.  When that pitcher is Adam Wainwright, best get out the fainting couches for Cardinal Nation, because that just doesn’t enter into our frame of reference.

Maybe it shouldn’t be quite as surprising as we think it is, however.  Dayn Perry last night on Twitter mentioned that he felt like Wainwright had a better likelihood of, as he put it, a “disaster game” than some of the other top starters.  If we set the idea of “disaster” at five runs or more in five innings or less, Wainwright has had 19 such games in his career counting last night.  His effort against the Rays yesterday was actually his third such game this season.  For reference, here are the “disaster game” totals for a few other top starters:

Clayton Kershaw: 11 (one this year)
Felix Hernandez: 21 (none this year)
David Price: 13 (one this year)
Jon Lester: 23 (two this year)

This is a rough examination of just a few pitchers.  We’re not adjusting for length of career, league they pitch in, anything like that.  With those caveats, it doesn’t look like Wainwright comes out and has a “disaster game” with much more regularity than other top starters.  For some reason it feels like that, though.  Maybe that’s a function of him being the one we watch the most, I don’t know.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not casting aspersions on Wainwright’s pitching or saying we can’t trust him out there.  Far from it!  Everyone has a bad night and last night was one of Waino’s.  The problem is this offense isn’t likely to bail him out, even if he wound up coming short of our disaster criteria.  When we see nights like this out of the ace, it’s doubly painful.

Wainwright gets the Goat, of course, for last night’s outing.  It was an all-around failure, as he walked four, allowed six hits, and made an error.  All that was missing was an ill-advised comment during an in-game interview to cap off the night.

That bailed out Kolten Wong, because he probably would have gotten the tag most nights as he went 0-4 and stranded four men on base.  The only time he actually reached, walking in the first inning, he was caught stealing.  (Apparently, you don’t run on Jose Molina either.)  Being that the Cards didn’t just have a ton of base runners (not counting the two home runs, they had nine men on all night), leaving that many on the pond is a great way to short-circuit what was already a sputtering engine.

Hero goes to Matt Carpenter, who led off the game with a home run to give Wainwright a lead he couldn’t hold.  Carpenter also had a single later in the game, joining Matt Adams as the only multi-hit Cardinals on the evening.  Matt Holliday also went yard for the only other score.


As always, the boxscore comes to us courtesy of @Cardinal_50.

Of course, yesterday’s pre-game excitement (as it were) was the daily revealing of the lineup, finding out which faction in which positional battle has the upper hand for that day.  Yesterday Allen Craig played while Oscar Taveras sat.  Thankfully, since I’m short on time, Cole has done an excellent job laying out that discussion, including Mike Matheny‘s comments that got Twitter pretty fired up.  Be sure to give that a read.

Michael Wacha and the club think that he’ll be back in September after an MRI Monday showed that his stress reaction had seemingly healed up.  I think this is a situation where you get cautiously optimistic.  Yes, it looks good now, but will it look good after he starts throwing again?  We saw this time and time again with Chris Carpenter–that rest helped things, but once he got back to his regular routine, it blew up on him.  If he can get through his throwing program, early September seems reasonable.

That said, I think John Mozeliak still has to approach the trading deadline like he has no Wacha.  After all, the Cards have to get through the month of August without him and, given Shelby Miller‘s status right now, that could be pretty tough without the addition of a pitcher.  If Mo does grab a pitcher of high quality, adding Wacha into a rotation with Wainwright, Lance Lynn, and new guy would make for a fun September and post season.

Kevin Siegrist likely gets activated today, with Nick Greenwood probably heading to Memphis.  Greenwood did a much better job than I expected when he was called up and stayed around much longer as well.  I doubt that’s the last we’ve seen of him.  If nothing else, he’ll return in September when the rosters expand.  (Of course, it’s possible another move is made for Siegrist’s return, but it’s not as obvious as Greenwood going down.)

Lynn goes today against the Rays, trying to get the Cards back on track after what is now a two-game losing streak.  Lynn missed the Rays earlier in the season and has an extremely limited (and not that pretty) record against these hitters.

James Loney 3 3 2 1 0 0 1 0 1 .667 .667 1.000 1.667 0 0 0 0 0
Erik Bedard 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Yunel Escobar 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Matthew Joyce 1 1 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 1.000 1.000 4.000 5.000 0 0 0 0 0
Evan Longoria 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1.000 1.000 2.000 3.000 0 0 0 0 0
Jose Molina 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Ben Zobrist 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 11 10 4 2 0 1 4 1 4 .400 .455 .900 1.355 0 0 0 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/23/2014.

Whatever the Cardinal philosophy is toward James Loney, it needs to be adjusted and adjusted quickly. Loney destroys Wainwright and, sure, it’s only three AB here against Lynn, but the same haunting results are shown.

St. Louis has to face Alex Cobb.  The only Cardinals that have ever seen him before are Jhonny Peralta (0-6, 4 K) and Peter Bourjos (0-1, BB, K), since they were in the American League last year.  Cobb is 5-6 with a 4.08 ERA this year, but has had a few good starts in a row.  Last time out, he gave up two runs in 5.2 innings to the Twins.

This is my last full post for a while.  Hope the Cards have an outstanding run while I’m gone!

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Last updated: 10/06/2022