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Adam Wainwright continues to struggle in return from Tommy John surgery

Apr 19, 2012, 7:44 PM EDT

Adam Wainwright Getty Getty Images

Adam Wainwright‘s ERA actually went down this afternoon, but he continues to struggle in his return from Tommy John surgery.

Wainwright allowed four runs on seven hits over five innings in a 6-3 loss to the Reds. While he struck out five and walked just one, he also allowed two homers and averaged just under 90 mph on his fastball (thanks to Brooks Baseball for the data).

Wainwright is now 0-3 over his first three starts and has a 9.88 ERA and 14/4 K/BB ratio over 13 2/3 innings. He has already served up five homers after giving up an average of 14 per season from 2007-2010.

While it’s not unusual for pitchers to struggle with their command following Tommy John surgery, giving up free passes and/or leaving pitches up or in the middle of the strike zone, it’s a bit troubling that Wainwright’s velocity has seemingly declined from his solid showing during spring training. The Cardinals are off to a fast start at 9-4, so this is hardly panic time, but three of their losses have come in Wainwright’s outings.

  1. charlutes - Apr 19, 2012 at 8:15 PM

    Jays fan here. Buck Martinez has to go. He’s the only bad thing associated with the Blue Jays. Just saying.

  2. ultimatecardinalwarrior - Apr 19, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    While not good, I don’t think he was really that bad. He has a huge home run problem right now, but that’s unsustainable. I’m just thanking god that the back Lynn, Lohse and Westbrook are holding down the fort for now, hopefully until a reverse of fortune for Wainwright.

  3. APBA Guy - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:10 AM

    It’s not unusual for guys coming back from TJ to have a fatigue period after they resume competition. Wainwright had a very good Spring, and its possible that as he continues to build strength and stamina he’s in one of those fatigue periods now, where his velocity is down a a bit and his command and location aren’t sharp.

  4. therealtrenches - Apr 20, 2012 at 7:49 AM

    I believe the proper word for his play this far is “scuffle,” not “struggle.” Just ask Bob Harkins.

  5. spudchukar - Apr 20, 2012 at 9:31 AM

    More than a decrease in velocity is the decrease in movement. Right now his fastball is very hittable. And he is making a lot of mistakes in the strike zone. He also seems to have altered the angle on his “hacker”, so it is less north/south than in the past.

    Hard to gauge the immediate future for Waino. At first I attributed his struggles to a dead arm period, coming out of a surprisingly good Spring training, but observing him yesterday left me with the feeling that it is going to be awhile before he returns to his normal self.

    With no contributions from Carpenter, and three poor outings from Wainwright, one would expect Cards fans to be justifying a hiccup out of the gate. It is much easier to swallow, knowing the team is 9-4 with a 3 game lead in the NL central, and playing the majority of the games on the road against some of the better teams in the NL. Not only have the dual aces not contributed but Holiday has been off to a slow start, though mostly unlucky, and Berkman, Beltran, and Freese have all been shelved with minor dings, and the second base dilemma is unresolved and unproductive. Plus the bull pen has been less than stellar, but an issue that is most likely solvable when Lynn is returned and Sanchez and Linebrink recover.

    5 straight series wins to open 2012 following the loss of Pujols, adjusting to a new management regime, and increased playing time for a number of rookies is commendable particularly when the team has overcome the above difficulties. Patience is most likely the most prudent approach to the Carpenter/Wainwright concerns, and maybe also the answer at 2B, but soon a deal involving the blocked Robinson and enigmatic Boggs and Greene, the latter of whom is out of options, and the expendable Marte, for a dependable second baseman and left-handed back-up catcher and, might be the solution to problems time cannot answer.

    • umrguy42 - Apr 20, 2012 at 9:47 AM

      Spud, it’s at a time like this with Waino that I think the Cards may miss Dave Duncan the most. Maybe they should have Carp watch the tapes, and see if he can spot anything, and talk through it with Wainwright.

      • spudchukar - Apr 20, 2012 at 10:06 AM

        Very valid point. That said, something tells me Duncan may still be approachable, through back channels.

  6. paperlions - Apr 20, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    Location is a big problem for some of his pitches right now. Each HR yesterday was a cut fastball that was supposed to start in the zone and move off the plate, but each one started on the edge an moved right over the heart of the plate.

    Control is usually the last thing to come back after TJ surgery. If Carpenter comes back, might not be a bad idea to have Wainwright work out of the pen for a while.

    • spudchukar - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:26 PM

      While you are mostly very accurate about the cutter and its location, but even that pitch appears different. The break is greater, but it has a little hump in it, so it more resembles a slurve. The fact that Waino is using it so much is another hint that all is not right. It was a pitch that he only added to his arsenal late in 2010, and hardly his go-to option.

      Cruz may not have helped him much, but Molina cannot catch everyday, it was a day game after a night game, we have no days off this week, and Wainwright is a veteran, whereas Lynn needs more guidance. But Cruz looked awful at bad yesterday, way over matched by the soft stuff of Arroyo, and with Bryan Anderson currently 2 for 42, and the two being singles, with 16 KO’s, Molina will be seeing an inordinate amount of innings unless they can find some help for him elsewhere.

      • paperlions - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:41 PM

        I agree. The movement is slow and looping instead of late and sharp….and when the pitch velo is in the mid-80s….that’s bad.

        Cruz looked bat at and behind the dish….Waino threw some nice pitches that might have been called strikes if Cruz wasn’t slapping the glove at them.

      • spudchukar - Apr 20, 2012 at 2:04 PM

        Slapping is a very apt term, he sure didn’t help Wainwright yesterday. I know we get spoiled with Molina, but in the past Cruz as been better than adequate, but yesterday he did not look like he belonged in the Majors.

  7. okwhitefalcon - Apr 20, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    Location, location, location indeed.

    I listened to Mo last night on KTRS, very informative.

    He said the velocity issues weren’t issues, their staff has Waino at less than 1 mile an hour over his average in 2010 the first 3 starts.

    As for Waino doing some bullpen time, not likely. There was no news on the Carpenter front and a hint that he maybe closer to the 60 day DL than the active roster.

    If that’s the case, Lance Dickson is first in line with a move outside of the organization unlikely,

    • okwhitefalcon - Apr 20, 2012 at 10:54 AM

      EDIT FUNCTION : “their staff has Waino at less than 1 mile an hour “UNDER” his average in 2010 the first 3 starts.”

    • spudchukar - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:14 PM

      I believe the guy you are referring to is Brandon Dickson. His numbers in Memphis have improved and are respectable, but his brief foray onto the Big League roster has not been impressive, and I for one cringe at the thought of him entering the rotation, even if it is on a short term basis.

      Kelly’s numbers are better, he has a vicious power sinker, and IMHO is much more likely to succeed at the ML level. He is young and unproven, and has struggled with command, but the signs are positive for him. Even John Gast would be a better option, though he has very limited experience versus Big League hitters. But even if he got hit he could pick off the runners, unless Bob Davidson is one of the men in blue assigned to the Cards contest.

      • paperlions - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:42 PM

        Yeah, I get the vibe that Kelly would be the next guy called up for a spot start or temporary stay in the rotation.

      • okwhitefalcon - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:47 PM

        I think they view Dickson as the only guy who’s even remotely ready – even in a pinch for a start or 2 at the big league level. They tend to to shy away from guys still working on command issues as even short term solutions – see Eduardo Sanchez.

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