Unfinished business? Wainwright takes to Twitter to explain late-season slump

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers...
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)(Jae C. Hong | AP)
Published: Oct. 12, 2022 at 4:47 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Most Cardinals fans who saw it assured the beloved starting pitcher that he didn’t owe them any explanation for his troubling performance over the final few weeks of the season. But knowing just how much people in St. Louis care about their baseball team, Adam Wainwright felt that he ought to provide one, anyway.

Wainwright took to Twitter Wednesday morning in a thread that spanned five separate tweets and began with his desire to “clear a few things up” about his finish to the season, which for the Cardinals, officially ended on Saturday night in a Wild Card Series sweep to the Phillies. For Wainwright, though, his season effectively ended on October 2, when he last pitched in the final home game of the regular season.

It was his poor performance on the mound down the stretch that put manager Oliver Marmol into a position where he could reasonably allow the Cardinals’ season to end without Waino getting a chance to toe the rubber in the playoffs. Wainwright compiled a jarring 7.22 ERA across six starts after September 1 and experienced a decrease in velocity and effectiveness due to what Wainwright had previously attributed to an ill-timed ‘dead arm’ phase.

The timing of that supposed ‘dead arm’ could not have been much worse for the 41-year-old pitcher, who⁠—unlike his retiring Cardinals teammates Yadi and Albert⁠—had not yet publicized a decision about his future with the Cardinals or in MLB beyond 2022.

Sounding like a pitcher with an eye on the future Wednesday, though, Wainwright explained in his Twitter thread that the recent struggles were not the result of a ‘dead arm’ phase at all. Rather, Wainwright believes the lack of crispness stemmed from an issue with his mechanics that developed after he was struck by a comebacker off the bat of Braves third baseman Austin Riley on August 28 at Busch Stadium. Without ever realizing it, Wainwright shared that his stride length had been compromised ever since.

“On Aug 28th I was hit in the knee by a comebacker against Atlanta,” Wainwright tweeted, starting of the thread. “Without knowing it, after that game my stride length got shorter by almost a foot. Timing was thrown.”

Wainwright continued, detailing that this wasn’t a problem he had ever dealt with previously in his career, which apparently meant one of the typical fixes the veteran starter looks for when things aren’t feeling right on the mound. By the time Wainwright realized what was happening and took the steps to fix it, it was too late. The season was over.

Though obvious questions have arisen from fans on social media wondering why the Cardinals coaching staff wasn’t able to help diagnose this problem in Wainwright’s delivery sooner, Wainwright bore the brunt of the responsibility.

He added later in the thread that he “didn’t stay diligent enough” with watching film to catch the problem as quickly as he should have.

Wainwright ended his thread with a ‘Go @Cardinals,’ showing his allegiance to the team and fan base for whom is no longer contractually tied. Wainwright has been going year-to-year with his contract in recent seasons and has not publicly declared whether he plans to continue pitching into 2023.

Asked about his future plans following the team’s elimination on Saturday, Wainwright said, “We’ll see what happens. We should know pretty soon if something happens. If not, then it’s been a good run, thanks St. Louis.”

With that quote Saturday, Wainwright didn’t sound like a guy unsure of whether he wanted to keep pitching next year. The revelation of the issues that plagued him in September—and his willingness to so publicly share that information—reinforces the notion that the veteran right-hander has unfinished business on the mound.