(BaseballStL) — Cardinal ace Adam Wainwright will get an extended break following the Midsummer Classic, sitting out this weekend against the Dodgers.
Even though Los Angeles will throw both Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke at St. Louis, Wainwright’s next start won’t be until Tuesday against Tampa Bay.
“This is their idea of, ‘let’s protect our guy and make sure he’s ready to go the rest of the season,’” he said at his locker Friday.
The 32-year-old ace said this weekend respite was on the calendar before his inning of work as starting pitcher in the All-Star Game in Minnesota.
“From what I’ve been told, whether I pitched Tuesday or not, they would have backed me up anyway. I think they’re just being real cautious making sure I’m prepared to go the rest,” he said. “This is going to be a pretty torrid race through the end of the season. I think they’re mindful of that and they need me to be out there every fifth day.”
Wainwright has thrown 138 innings so far in 2014, fourth most in the majors. He’s thrown more than 200 innings in every season since 2009 except for one (198.2 in 2012). This isn’t lost on the Cardinals, who will need the big righty at full strength if they plan to contend down the stretch.
“Getting him a little rest, because we’re going to ride him hard the rest of the way,” skipper Mike Matheny said before the game. “We’ve worked him hard, and plan on working him hard the rest of the way. The schedule works out good to get us a little more time for him.”
The Birds have four days off in the next 18, making it possible to go to a four-man rotation for the next few series. Matheny said the club plans to do just that, though using it more as a chance to get certain starters rest rather than a true four-man rotation.
That leaves a man out, and as of Friday it appears to be Shelby Miller. The 23-year-old will move to the bullpen for the time being and the rotation will by staffed by Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly and Carlos Martinez.
“Part of the plan from the beginning with him was to get him rest when we could and this is a good opportunity,” Matheny said of Miller. “He can come in and throw an inning, he’s just not going to be needing to go every fifth day.”
Miller’s first half was not what the team had hoped for after a strong 2013. He finished 7-8, losing his last four decisions. He went six innings or more only eight times, and the Cardinals went 8-11 in his games.
Matheny said the bullpen is healthy, so Miller’s opportunities may be scant. Still, the club will focus on maintaining his strength, even in a new role.
“If he’s not getting work, we’ll find work for him,” Matheny said. “He’s just one of the bullpen guys right now.”