Adam Wainwright wasn’t supposed to be pitching this season. After a 13-year run that had become increasingly injury-plagued since 2015, he was contemplating retiring at the end of 2018. His five-year contract extension, which had been paying him almost $20 million annually, was expiring at the end of the year and he had spent the majority of the season on the injured list with elbow inflammation. At 37 years old with a very successful and storied career under his belt, no one would have questioned him if he had hung up his spikes.
Wainwright returned to the mound for four starts in September and rediscovered his feel for pitching, even if his results didn’t exactly match. He allowed 12 runs in just over 22 innings in the final month of the season despite posting a 3.21 FIP during that stretch. Instead of a last-minute retirement tour, those four games became the building blocks for his resurgence this year.
It turns out the Cardinals weren’t ready to part with Wainwright either. They re-signed him to a one-year, incentive-laden contract with a $2 million base salary. With Carlos Martinez injured and then sent to the bullpen, Michael Wacha ineffective and also relegated to relief, and Alex Reyes not yet ready for prime time, the Cardinals have had to rely on Wainwright a little more than they were supposed to. Read the rest of this entry »