Adam Wainwright has come a long way in his career. From closing out the 2006 World Series and turning into an ace, to coming back from various elbow injuries to pitch into his 40’s, Old Uncle Charlie has seen it all. He’s back with the Cardinals on another one-year deal, and next season figures to be the veteran right-hander’s last. Here is what to expect out of Adam Wainwright in 2022.
The 40-year-old Wainwright has been the Cardinals best pitcher over the last two seasons. When the team had a COVID-19 outbreak in their clubhouse in 2020, everything was shut down for 17 days. It was Wainwright who started the Cards’ first game back, going five innings and allowing just a run. It was Wainwright who ate up innings for St. Louis and led them through a long stretch of 55 games in 49 days, reaching the postseason for the second straight year.
Fast forward to 2021. The Cardinals pitching staff was torn apart due to injuries. Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, and Dakota Hudson were down, and the rotation was in shambles. St. Louis had had more than their fair share of games in which they snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory. But during every losing streak, it was Wainwright who stepped up and played the role of stopper, giving the Cards the innings and length that they needed to get through games, which almost always resulted in a win.
And it was no surprise that he was the one leading the charge during the Cards’ 17 game win streak in the month of September that took them from hanging around .500 to burying every other team in the NL Wild Card race and earning a third straight trip to the postseason.
What to expect
Wainwright had gone 5-3 with a 3.15 ERA over ten starts during the shortened 2020 season, but there were still some question marks. Could he put it together for a full year? Could he finish with an ERA below 4 in a 162-game season? He hadn’t done that since 2014. But Wainwright passed each test with flying colors, proving that he truly was back to his old self.
Wainwright finished the 2021 season strong, winning 17 games and pitching to an ERA just above 3. He even drew the start in the Wild Card game against the Dodgers, a game in which he pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed just one run.
Wainwright has proven that he still has what it takes. He seems to have put his injury struggles behind him and now is pitching like the ace he once was. I think we can expect Wainwright to just keep on keeping on, having an ERA under 4, eating up innings, and winning 12-plus games or so. He’s just as reliable as he was in his younger days. He’s always been one to help stop losing skids and deliver gems when needed most. And if he keeps that going, then the whole baseball world knows what to expect out of Adam Wainwright in 2022.
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