After Adam Wainwright’s first two starts of the season, fans are already writing him off, saying that he should have retired last year with Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina. Well, I’ve got news folks. He’s not retired yet, whether you like it or not, and he’s still motivated to prove everybody wrong.
His first two starts have not gone according to plan, as he has gone just five innings and allowed four runs in both of them, but I wouldn’t say he’s been “bad,” nor would I say that he should have retired last season. I still believe Waino has a little bit left in the tank. But if his starts continue on a similar trajectory, there may be an alternative solution that will allow him to still be able to help the team.
I’ve been impressed with the way his games have started. Against the Tigers, he threw four scoreless innings before things went south. On Friday in Boston, he was scoreless for three innings. It wasn’t until the fourth that the Red Sox finally started to chip away. That being said, as crazy as this sounds, what if a bullpen role is what is best for him?
Again, I know this sounds crazy, and I’m not suggesting that he won’t turn it around and pitch like the Waino we all know and love. I actually have a lot of faith that he’ll figure it out, because he’s done it so many times before in his battle against father time.
But the Cardinals appear to be trending upwards now, even with the sad state of the starting rotation. Having him back likely has inspired them to turn things around, and I think once he gets going, everything will be okay. But it doesn’t have to be in a starter’s role.
I’m only suggesting this in the event that the results of his starts remain similar to what we’ve seen in the first two games he’s been back. But given that he looked so good early on in each of them before he became human, it might be worth considering him for a long relief role, similar to what Jake Woodford has been doing in recent years. You could then move Andre Pallante to the starting rotation or even clear a spot for Matthew Liberatore.
Also, if the Cardinals continue to trend upwards, it’s very likely that they’ll try to acquire a true frontline starter at the trade deadline. Perhaps that may be what ends up happening. There’s no reason to panic about Wainwright’s tough starts, because he just got back. It may take a little time. But I don’t think this is a bad option if things continue to go south on him towards the end of his starts.
Perhaps he could be used for two or three innings on a night where a starter doesn’t go deep or even have him available for a game that goes into extras. He could also be used in the same role that Pallante has filled since his arrival. With him retiring at the end of the season, it might be fitting that he closes things out as a reliever, ending his career just as it began.
Again, I must stress that I do believe the veteran right-hander will turn it around and that this is merely a fallback option. But it is something to consider.