Cardinals vs. Diamondbacks: Adam Wainwright, Ian Kennedy anchor the back of the Opening Day schedule

Christian Petersen

The St. Louis Cardinals and the Arizona Diamondbacks meet for a late Opening Day matchup.

This is probably not the way you imagine Opening Day with the St. Louis Cardinals: Inside a stadium with a roof in the desert, with a CDT start time of 9:10 (is it really so hard to do Daylight Savings Time, Arizona?), a day after what baseball is now calling "Opening Night." I'd just as soon have Busch Stadium, and an afternoon start, but with a high of 53 in St. Louis I probably wouldn't have been satisfied with that, either. And with Adam Wainwright and Ian Kennedy making the start, it's a game worth watching anyway.

Kennedy and Wainwright have a lot in common, but here's how I read the matchup—each recent Cy Young finalist is coming off a season in which his peripherals suggested a different narrative than his results. Kennedy's traditional stats dropped from 21-5, 2.88 to 15-12, 4.02 between 2011 and 2012, but his xFIP both years (3.50 and 4.13) suggests that the gap is more about an unrepeatable 2011 than a drop-off in 2012.

Wainwright's 3.23 xFIP in 2012 fit perfectly between his 2009 (3.32) and 2010 (3.02) star turns; his strikeout and walk rates were eerily steady. But a high batting average on balls in play and a low strand rate means his ERA rose from 2.63 and 2.42 to 3.94, and what should have been a triumphant comeback looked like a gritty/gutty return from elbow surgery.

Both players have a chance to tell new stories in 2013; they'll begin today, which is great. I just wish they weren't beginning so late.

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