ST. LOUIS, Mo. (BaseballStL) -- What’s a postseason without a little bit of intrigue? It’s always something, dating back to Vince Coleman getting run over by a tarp in 1985. This time the concern is Adam Wainwright’s elbow. His tendinitis doesn’t compare to the Coleman incident for dramatic postseason developments, but it could heavily influence the Cardinals fortunes the rest of the way.
The Cardinals intend to use Wainwright as their starter in game one in the NLCS. That’s assuming he’s up to it. Wainwright says he’s fine, and that there is no question that he’ll be able to pitch. Mike Matheny doesn’t sound as confident.
“There’s no question that Waino has been fighting it,” said Matheny before Tuesday’s game 4 of the Dodgers series. “I haven’t made that a secret and neither has he. It’s all going to come down to how he feels. The likelihood of him saying ‘I can’t go’ is very slim. But it is a possibility that something might not feel right.”
Wainwright missed a start in June because of tendinitis. A little rest did him a lot of good back then. By September he was in peak form, going 5-0 with a 1.38 ERA and earning the National League pitcher of the month award. But he was hit hard by the Dodgers in game 1 of the NLDS. He gave up six runs on 11 hits in 4.1 innings. His fastball was ineffective, forcing him to rely heavily on his curveball.
Wainwright pitched 227 innings this season, and 242 last year. That’s more than any other pitcher in the National League. He’ll have seven days of rest between his start in Los Angeles and the opening game of the NLCS, but the Cardinals have to be prepared in case that’s not enough and Wainwright can’t answer the bell.
Lance Lynn would likely step up and start game one if Wainwright needs a replacement. John Lackey and Shelby Miller both looked sharp in their starts against the Dodgers. The Cardinals also have Michael Wacha waiting in the wings should they need another starter in the NLCS. But Wainwright is the unquestioned ace of the staff, and will no doubt do everything in his power to be ready to make his start in the NLCS opener.
Waino, by the way, was pretty proud of himself last night for predicting Matt Adams three run homer that beat the Dodgers. “I said if he throws a strike breaking ball right here he’s going to hit it out of the park,” said Wainwright. “Luckily for us Matt Adams put a great swing on it and hit it out of the park. Made me look pretty smart. Which doesn’t happen often.”