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What will the Cardinals do with Adam Wainwright?

St. Louis Cardinals v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Watching Adam Wainwright gets more painful with every start he makes. Another clunker took place Friday night against the Royals, as he allowed eight runs in just an inning-plus. It’s not so much that fans are frustrated with him, but rather frustrated for him. At least that’s how I view it.

I think it’s clear at this point that the Cardinals shouldn’t have brought him back, but either way, it hurts to see him struggle this much, especially in his final season. Waino has given his heart and soul to the City of St. Louis and the Cardinals organization, and nobody wants to win more than he does. Seeing the look of defeat and fatigue on his face makes it all the more heartbreaking.

As fans, we all wanted him to go out on a positive note and ride off into the sunset after reaching 200 wins. However, that appears unlikely now, as his place in the rotation became less certain with Friday’s outing. The Cardinals have made it clear that they may have to re-evaluate things.

“I’ll sit down with Waino and we’ll talk through a few things before I completely answer your question,” Oli Marmol told a reporter after asking him what the future holds for the veteran right-hander. “Is it ideal? It’s not. Was it coming out great? No, it didn’t look like it today.”

Based on what Marmol is saying, it seems to me that the Cardinals are at least going to consider making a change. The question is what will that change be?

Will Wainwright be moved to the bullpen to finish out his career as he started it? This is what seems like the most likely route the team will take. However, something else entirely could happen, and it’s a possibility I shudder to think about.

Fans may balk at this idea, and I understand why. The season is lost and you have nothing else to lose, so why not keep giving him chances? But the bullpen may not be the best place for him. Again, I think this is unlikely, but it is possible that the Cardinals could decide to cut him loose.

No Cardinals fan wants that. Waino is a competitor and a winner. He’s given everything he had in each and every one of his starts, and you don’t want it to end like this. But he’s just not getting it done, and it’s a performance-based business.

At this point, you can’t keep having him essentially throw batting practice every fifth day and get shelled like this. Zack Thompson has looked really good in his last few outings, and I’m starting to think it might be time to give him some chances in the rotation.

To reiterate, I hope with every fiber of my being that the possible change isn’t him being designated for assignment or released. My hope is that he’s moved to the bullpen. and he figures things out just like Steven Matz did.

But even if he’s moved to the bullpen, there’s no guarantee that the results won’t be the same. Plus, he often struggles in his first innings of work, so having him pitch in the middle of ballgames may not be the way to go about it.

It seems to me like Oli and John Mozeliak are eventually going to have a serious talk with the two-time World Series champion in the coming days to discuss what next steps might be. It’s clear that having him start every fifth day isn’t working.

Ultimately, the content of that meeting will decide what happens. If it’s a demotion to the bullpen, it sucks, but Wainwright is a professional and I don’t see him pushing back against the notion if that’s what they decide to do.

But I fear that it could be more than just removing him from the rotation. I don’t want it to happen. Nobody does. But the Cardinals may decide from a business standpoint that it’s time to let him go.

At this point, it’s clear that he’s not going to get a happy ending, not like Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina did anyway. If anything, the best we can hope for is that the Cards find a way to make the last few weeks of the season as painless as possible for him, and we can only hope that it entails keeping him on the roster.