Maybe the only thing that’s certain about the Cardinals starting rotation at this point is that Adam Wainwright is the ace. After a 19 win season, Wainwright enters his ninth major league year as the unquestioned number one starter on the staff.
“I don’t know man, these young bucks are pushing me,” said Wainwright. “I think you saw how all those guys pitched last year. I was so proud of Shelby (Miller) pitching the whole year, and Lance Lynn pitching the whole year and 200 innings. You add Michael (Wacha) and Carlos (Martinez) into that mix. We got a great young mix coming up. I’m going to enjoy it while I can.”
Wainwright takes his role as leader of the staff very seriously. He’s kept in touch with the other pitchers this off season to make sure they’re getting in their workouts.
“He would text me every now and then to make sure I was in the gym,” said Wacha. “Just seeing how everything was going, which is pretty sweet to see.”
Miller said, “Waino and I developed a good friendship this past season, more so than previous seasons. He’s a great influence on a lot of us guys.”
Miller is coming off a rookie season in which he won 15 games, but was unused most of the post season leading to questions about his role on the staff.
“If you’re asking if I’ve lost my role as a starter, I don’t think so,” said Miller. “I know we’re going into camp battling, just like last year, with even more guys. We’ll see what happens. The biggest thing is to just be prepared when that time comes this spring.”
The Cardinals have no fewer than seven solid candidates for the five man rotation. Assuming everybody stays healthy, Mike Matheny will have some tough decisions to make by opening day.
Wacha said, “My mindset right now is going into spring training trying to win a job. I know that’s what everybody is going to do. It’s going to be a competition, but a fun competition.”
Lance Lynn seemed surprised to learn that he may have to earn a spot in the rotation this spring. “I just found out in this media session that there is a competition. They fully expect me to be in the rotation. There’s been no one I’ve talked to that’s told me I’m fighting for a job.”
Joe Kelly said, “I’m not going to sell myself short. I’m going to go out there and try my best and hopefully take Waino’s spot.” He was kidding about becoming the new ace, but Wainwright appreciates the attitude.
“I use to tell Carp (Chris Carpenter) the same kind of thing,” said Wainiwright. “Like hey I’m coming for you. I always welcome that. If you end up being ace of the staff than that means you’re going to be really, really good. Cause I’m ain’t going anywhere. I’m going to continue to be me. If you end up better than me, that means we’re going to have a really good team.”