ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 22: Starter Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals is congratulated by Yadier Molina #4 also of the St. Louis Cardinals after throwing a complete-game shut out against the San Diego Padres at Busch Stadium on May 22, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Adam Wainwright picked the perfect time to show his ace form. With the Cardinals reeling after having lost multiple players to the disabled list and eight of their last eleven games, Wainwright took to the hill on Tuesday in Busch Stadium and looked like, well, Adam Wainwright. That is to say that his performance was at a level not yet seen since he underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in 2011.
Wainwright was in full command and control of his repertoire. After issuing nine walks in his last two starts combined, Wainwright issued only one on Tuesday night. Wainwright notched nine strikeouts on the night after striking out six combined in his prior two outings combined. Of his 111 total pitches, 76 were strikes. His four-hit shutout was the first shutout from the Cardinals rotation this season. The Bill James Game Score for the outing was 87, which is the highest Wainwright has scored since August 6, 2010*, a start against the Marlins that was also his last complete game shutout.
*In the original post, I got the year wrong for Wainwright's last complete game shutout. It occurred in 2010 and not 2011.
In a heartening development, the velocity on Wainwright's fastball also had more life. For the 2012 season leading into Tuesday night, his four-seamer had averaged 89.9 MPH and his sinker 89.7 MPH. On Tuesday night, Wainwright's four-seamer averaged 90.7 MPH and his sinker 90.5 MPH.
Entering play on Tuesday night, Wainwright's ERA sat at an unsightly 5.77; after the shutout, it has fallen to 4.78. If Wainwright is able to maintain the form he displayed against the Padres lineup, his ERA could fall further and fast.