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Don’t forget, the Cardinals will get Adam Wainwright back next season

Oct 29, 2011, 10:35 AM EDT

Adam Wainwright

There’s naturally a lot of focus on Albert Pujols‘ impending free agency this winter, but let’s not forget that Adam Wainwright is on track to return to the Cardinals’ starting rotation next season.

Wainwright, 30, missed the entire 2011 season following Tommy John surgery in February. He was recently shut down for a week due to some scar tissue in his surgically-repaired elbow, but resumed playing catch this week. The Cardinals have already exercised their options for 2012 and 2013 on the right-hander and he is expected to have a normal offseason before reporting to spring training.

Wainwright was one of the top starting pitchers in the game before the surgery, posting a 2.93 ERA from 2007-2010. Command is often the last thing to bounce back after surgery, so he is no lock to perform at an elite level out of the gate, but with Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook all under contract for next season, the starting rotation is in pretty solid shape.

  1. sandpiperair - Oct 29, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    What does the data say these days about recovery? It used to be that it took pitchers until their second year after TJ surgery to fully regain their old form. Is that still about the same?

    • Kyle - Oct 29, 2011 at 2:22 PM

      I’m far from an expert, but I believe the general rule is that velo returns rather easy, it’s feel for pitches that takes the most time to return. Of course, there are always exceptions, Strasburg didn’t seem to have much trouble once he got back on the mound this season.

      • natstowngreg - Oct 29, 2011 at 8:05 PM

        That’s true, but Strasburg was under pitch limits, and he will be under some sort of innings limit in 2012. Jordan Zimmerman pitched well in 2011, but was shut down after about 160 innings. Zimmermann should be able to pitch a normal workload in 2012.

        Wainwright’s chances of returning as a productive starter are good. But don’t expect him to pitch as far into games, or pitch the entire season, until 2013.

  2. btwicey - Oct 29, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    Yea location and command are the toughest to come , rather frustrating from exp. he’s a very very good pitcher though

  3. Reflex - Oct 29, 2011 at 10:49 PM

    Unfortunatly Wainwright will go about two years and blow out his shoulder next. I love the guy, but he’s another Inverted W pitcher.

  4. mgflolox - Oct 30, 2011 at 1:03 AM

    The Cardinals have the resources and the front office acumen to remain competitive even with the departure of a superstar player. i fully expect them to be in the race next season.

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