If 2018 ends up being the final season of Adam Wainwright’s illustrious Cardinals career, he unfortunately won’t get to go out with a bang by taking the ball in his final home opener at Busch Stadium.
Wainwright will open the season on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, according to multiple reports Sunday morning. Jack Flaherty will begin the season in the starting rotation in Wainwright’s place. Carlos Martinez is expected to pitch the first game of the year, on the road in New York, while Michael Wacha is now slated as the starter for the home opener in St. Louis April 5th.
Joe Trezza of MLB.com reports Wainwright injured his hamstring doing sprints, the same way reliever Luke Gregerson injured his to land him on the DL to start the year. Wainwright had a resurgent look about him in three spring training outings, pitching 10.2 innings and allowing just one earned run while striking out 10 (0.84 ERA). On Sunday's Fox Sports Midwest broadcast, Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak shared that he hopes Wainwright would miss only one or two starts with the hamstring injury. The veteran pitcher has not publicly discussed what he might do after this season, preferring to focus only on this year for now, but his declining performance and struggles with health in recent seasons have outsiders wondering if 2018 will be his last year with the team. Wainwright’s current contract runs to the end of the season.
Flaherty has a 4.85 ERA in 13 innings across four starts this spring, and has flashed his electric arm with 20 strikeouts to five walks. His numbers in his debut season last year were underwhelming, but Flaherty has the talent to take a sophomore leap similar to what Luke Weaver did in 2017 after his ordinary debut in 2016.