While we wait for the St. Louis Cardinals to make a decision between Tyler Lyons and Michael Wacha—I've been holding that sentence in reserve all season, of course—let's spend this hastily assembled morning thread talking about just how good Adam Wainwright has been this season.
Answer: He has been game-breakingly good. If you could patch baseball, he'd have been nerfed by now.
The most impressive part about that is that if he'd just been regular Adam Wainwright good, we'd be talking about Shelby Miller sneaking past him into the ace's role, because Miller has waltzed into the major league rotation and immediately begun operating as the best possible version of himself. He's the Shelby Miller we had no idea existed until halfway through last season, when he pulled out of his Memphis tailspin and made the very simple choice to never walk another batter again.
10 strikeouts per nine innings, 1.9 walks—Wainwright's never managed either of those numbers. That's the half-step past his peak that kept him from those Cy Young Awards.
Wainwright isn't likely to catch Miller's strikeout totals, which is why he's walked even fewer batters. Nine of them in a league-leading 103 innings, two intentional, so that his strikeout-to-walk ratio is about twice Miller's (10.78.) Here's how remarkable he's been: Wainwright's allowing a career-high .325 batting average on balls in play, even higher than last year's season-blighting .320. His 95 hits allowed lead the National League.
And his WHIP is still 1.01.
It's the kind of season that demands historical comparisons, but baseball doesn't really offer any up. Roy Halladay's close, but if Wainwright were somehow able to finish at this pace he'd be having a better Roy Halladay season than Roy Halladay has had.
One thing I've noticed about internet fandom, as opposed to casual fandom, is that it makes it easy to lose sight of truly great seasons; it's just so much easier, between starts, to talk about the decisions your team makes at the margins. While we wait to figure out which direction the Cardinals go with their two surprisingly effective fifth starters—at the risk of spoiling this afternoon's post: I'm not sure I see the benefit of sending Wacha down, but I can't be too angry about giving him a 10th career AAA start—it's worth remembering that their No. 1 has been even more responsible for keeping this amorphous rotation together.