By: Brian Feldman, Baseball STL
Ever since Cards ace Adam Wainwright tore his left Achilles tendon while exiting the batter’s box back in April, he’s maintained 2015 was not going to be a lost year. Wainwright has told anyone who would listen he’d be back.
He told coaches. He told teammates. He told the media.
Adam Wainwright has never been one to listen to doctors and think something is impossible, even unlikely. In fact, he recently told me no doctor ever said to him coming back this season was impossible. The man just presses on no matter what anyone thinks.
But here’s the rub. For a 34-year-old who’s clearly closer to the end of his career than the beginning, would the Cardinals actually – and I mean ACTUALLY – pull the trigger on activating their ace and inserting him onto the active roster? It’s one thing to talk about it. It’s quite another to act on that chatter.
This guy is way too important to the franchise moving forward to even think about risking his long term health. Should something happen to his Achilles again then no one in the organization would be able to forgive themselves. But, then again, having Wainwright back for a stretch run would be an incredible benefit to the Cardinals’ chances.
This has been a very fortunate year for the Cardinals in the sense that they had enough depth to withstand the loss of their very best pitcher. Not only did they withstand Wainwright’s absence, they’ve thrived. I have a hard time believing even someone like Wainwright would be forced into the starting rotation, if healthy.
The rotation is doing just fine and he hasn’t built up his arm strength to the point of throwing 100 pitches, let alone in a game situation.
Obviously, the bullpen would be a terrific fit if something happens and there’s definitely a need there with Trevor Rosenthal and Kevin Siegrist the only guys Mike Matheny really and truly trusts in the back end of that ‘pen. But we keep coming back to the same question.
Is the obvious potential benefit worth the inherent risk?
It’s a question we’ll find an answer to in the next couple weeks. You’d have to imagine if the Cards are serious about Wainwright pitching in October he’d have to be on a big league mound at least a couple weeks before that. That means activated onto the roster and pitching in the regular season for long enough to gain the trust of the coaching staff. That means hitting spots. That means having a feel for pitches.
We’ll see where Wainwright is at in about two weeks and then reconvene.
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