This season didn’t go like most seasons. The Cardinals were terrible. I stopped writing here very much, with nothing after the blog anniversary. However, some things must go on and that includes the Exit Interview series! Now in its 12th year, it’s our look back at each player that made an appearance in a game for the St. Louis Cardinals. We’re approaching it a little different this season, a little more literary and a little less statistical, but hopefully you enjoy it just the same. As always, I am grateful that cardinalsgifs has agreed to use his talent for the header image!
Player: Adam Wainwright
Stats: 5-11, 21 G, 101.0 IP, 151 H, 20 HR, 41 BB, 55 K, 7.40 ERA, 5.99 FIP, 1.901 WHIP, -2.0 bWAR
Statcast: 11.1% barrel, 40.6% sweet spot, 115.3 max exit velocity, .414 wOBA, .401 xwOBA, 11.4% K, 8.5% BB
“The one constant through all the years Ray, has been Adam Wainwright. Exit Interviews has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But Wainwright has marked the time.”
This is the last time I get to write about an Adam Wainwright season and I truly wish it was a better one to look at. It started on a high note–singing the National Anthem at Opening Day after a tolerable appearance in the World Baseball Classic–and ended on one, with a Wainwright concert days after win #200 and with two pinch-hit opportunities in the last weekend. There were moments to celebrate, like his remarkable seven scoreless innings with an injured arm to get that milestone win, but they were just few and far between.
Wainwright himself has joked about it, saying he was never mediocre, he just skipped right past that step. There’s no doubt his inability to miss bats and the lesser velocity meant that players that were young enough to be his son could beat around the old man with relative impunity. When his ERA approached 9 in mid-August, some tough conversations were starting to be had. It was the silver lining of this disaster of a season that, with the team so bad, they had no pressing need to replace Wainwright in the rotation and could give him chances to get to #200 without harming any sort of playoff run. Still, a club can only stick with such a player so far before a tough choice has to be made.
All that said, Wainwright was still a ray of sunshine throughout all of this. He didn’t lose his optimism or expectation that he was just about to turn it around, even when all the facts told him otherwise. I don’t know that it was worth a miserable year to see him get his 200, but I’m not saying it wasn’t either. He meant–means–a ton to this organization and is a remarkable person off the field. I’d say he deserves it.
What’s in store for 2024: Besides picking up kids from school and playing with Louie, you gotta figure Waino will wind up in the broadcast booth from time to time. He already did so this winter for the playoffs. Plus he’s doubling as team ambassador, to hear Sonny Gray tell it, and you know that he’ll be getting that red jacket in just a few years.