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Mike Matheny chooses Adam Wainwright over Clayton Kershaw as National League starter

Jul 14, 2014, 1:05 PM EDT

Clayton Kershaw is the reigning Cy Young winner, threw a no-hitter last month, and leads the league in ERA, but Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has chosen his own ace, St. Louis right-hander Adam Wainwright, to start for the National League tomorrow night.

Wainwright ranks second in the league with a 1.83 ERA, just barely behind Kershaw at 1.78, and he’s thrown 42 more innings than Kershaw while leading the NL with 12 wins. In other words it’s hardly a controversial choice, although Kershaw is generally viewed as the best pitcher in the world and it does add a little drama to the situation that Matheny is choosing his own guy.

Here’s a full-on comparison of their respective numbers:

               Wainwright     Kershaw
Starts             19            14
Innings           138            96
ERA              1.83          1.78
Record           12-4          11-2
SO/9              7.5          11.8
BB/9              1.8           1.2
OAVG             .201          .191
WHIP             0.91          0.83

I tend to think Kershaw has been the better pitcher this season and also think his track record of Cy Young-winning excellence makes up for Wainwright’s admittedly large edge in innings this season, but Wainwright’s track record is plenty excellent too and one of the perks of getting to the World Series as a manager is that the next season you can choose your own ace over the Dodgers’ ace to start the All-Star game.

  1. Bob Loblaw - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    ” In other words it’s hardly a controversial choice”

    Somebody who hasn’t had too much Dodger-blue kool-aid this morning.

    • 78mu - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:58 PM

      As a Cardinal fan, I wish it were more controversial. A lot more. So much that Matheny would be forced to back down and name Kershaw as the starter. And to showcase CK to the point of himpitching 3 innings no matter how many pitches he has to throw.

      Meanwhile AW can lounge next to a pool for three days.

    • kershawbestever - Jul 15, 2014 at 5:15 AM

      Kershaw 10 to 1 k/bb ratio, Wainwright 4.5 to 1. Only reason Wainwright has similar stats is because he has had his luckiest year ever (.250 BABIP), while Kershaw has had his most unlucky year ever (.280 BABIP). Kool Aid? So you LITERALLY think Wainwright is better than Kershaw? Do you know how stupid that sounds?

      • Bob Loblaw - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        Of course Kershaw is better pitcher than Wainwright. However, the All Star game starter isn’t the “better pitcher” It is for the pitcher who has had the best first half. Does that make sense to you? And if you want to say Kershaw had a better first half, that’s fine. I disagree. It’s very close, but I have no trouble with Wainwright getting the nod. The kool-aid part is an inside nudge at Craig for his previous post.

        Just to be clear so you don’t rant more about their careers…

        Kershaw better career. Wainwright, in my opinion, better first half of 2014. That’s all.

      • doubleogator - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:52 AM

        When you have a 1.83 era it’s not luck…

    • kershawbestever - Jul 15, 2014 at 6:12 AM

      Another thing. Kershaw has had a 1.81 ERA SINCE JULY 25TH 2012, No, that is NOT a typo, July 25th 2012!!LOL!! Because he (unlike Wainwright) Doesn’t have to depend on having his luckiest year ever (.250 BABIP) to post a sub 2 ERA half

      Since July 25th 2012

      Wainwright 430 IP 2.70 ERA 1.02 WHIP
      Kershaw 420 IP 1.81 ERA 0.89 WHIP (Kershaw has more IP per start)

      Wainwright is just having a fade half. EVERY single year a couple pitchers have sub 2 ERA first halves. But it never lasts (except for Kershaw). What Kershaw is doing over the last couple years is just the result of him maturing (enters his prime years next season). Nothing abnormal about what Kersh is doing.

  2. Rich Stowe - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    no issues with Wainwright getting the nod – the numbers are almost equal with Wainwright having a huge edge in starts/innings (5 more starts, 40 more innings give or take)…Wainwright has put up comparable numbers in significantly more chances…and Kershaw does pitch in the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium…

    I’m also of the belief that the all-star game should be for first-half excellence not what you’ve done for your career so the “cy young winning excellence” has no bearing on this decision…

    • lukedunphysscienceproject - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      If that’s your belief, your position is a little hard to defend. Or did Wainwright also have a no-hitter and a 41 innings scoreless streak in the first half of this season?

      • Rich Stowe - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:16 PM

        which is why I’d have no issues with Kershaw getting the nod either….

        it’s not like Wainwright is the worst pitcher in the bigs, made the roster only as the “Cardinals rep” and got the nod…

        it really is a close decision and while I would’ve gone with Kershaw for the reasons you mentioned, going with Wainwright isn’t wrong either

      • lukedunphysscienceproject - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:33 PM

        Plus, I guess if you are going to force a manager to manage the All-Star game (which they universally hate doing) I don’t suppose you can hold it against them to want to use their guys, especially when they are as close as Kershaw and Wainwright.

      • lukedunphysscienceproject - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:10 PM

        LOL- 29 thumbs down. The Cardinals Mafia is out in full strength today.

      • shadowshand - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:28 PM

        So with a 41 inning scoreless streak–impressive, no doubt–Kershaw’s ERA is still only .05 lower than Wainwright? That tells me in his other outings he has been letting in more than is reflected in the 1.78 ERA number. Either way, two great pitchers will get their chance.

      • rkstevens111 - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:23 PM

        Kershaw only leads the league in ERA by 0.05 because he had one bad start after coming back from the DL where he gave up 7 earned runs. Without that start, his ERA would be 0.86 or something like that. He’s had 2 starts where he’s given up 3 earned runs and 1 where he’s given up 2 earned runs. Otherwise, it’s either been 0 or 1 earned run.

        Wainwright has given 7 earned runs once, 6 earned runs once, and 4 earned runs once. If anyone’s been letting in more than has been reflected in the ERA, it’s Wainwright (shadowshand’s statement). In reality, both pitchers have pitched really well and you always have a start or two that bumps up the ERA over the course of a season. Neither is “letting in more” than their ERA reflects because of a bad outing or two.

      • blacksables - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:49 PM

        That’s why they’re called ‘averages’.

  3. commonsenseisnotcmonman - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    More fuel for the “Cardinals Nation” fire.

    • paperlions - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:21 PM

      We have a fire? I didn’t know we had a fire. What are we burning? Books? Midnight oil?

      • okwhitefalcon - Jul 14, 2014 at 3:19 PM

        I heard Midnight Oil’s “Beds Are Burning” earlier, does that count?

      • paperlions - Jul 14, 2014 at 3:46 PM

        No idea. I didn’t know we were a bed burning group…but I guess there are worse things to burn.

      • commonsenseisnotcmonman - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:04 PM

        sarcastic comment that obviously missed the mark. I was commenting on how the people who rail against Cardinals Nation would point to this as “another” reason to hate the Cardinals and their fans.

      • paperlions - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:08 PM

        Well, I got it…thus the joke.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:18 PM

      We went to a cookout Saturday night and we built a fire.
      But it was only built to keep the mosquitoes at bay.
      It had nothing to do with the great game of baseball.

      We burnt logs and used just a smidgen of lighter fluid.
      And strangely…we burnt Paper. No offense my Man.

  4. El Bravo - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    SO/9 is 11.8!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOT DAMN!

  5. chris3141084 - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    And another reason why people don’t care about baseball. I’m not going to watch the all-star game, but if I was inclined to give it a chance, I’d start at the first inning to see the best pitcher start the game, not the second best.

    • sophiethegreatdane - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:04 PM

      People don’t care about baseball? Okaaaaay….you may as well try to sell crazy somewhere else. We’re all stocked up here.

      • chris3141084 - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:13 PM

        It was a general comment, hence the multiple posts on HBT about the lack of interest in the festivities.
        You may be stocked up but I hope you don’t have plans to sell that crazy elsewhere. You won’t be able to give it away.

    • stex52 - Jul 14, 2014 at 3:00 PM

      If you aren’t going to watch, why do you care?

      • chris3141084 - Jul 15, 2014 at 12:08 AM

        I can care about the game without watching the game.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:19 PM

      And yet…here you are aimlessly posting on a BASEBALL site.
      Thanks for your contribution Johnny Contradiction!

  6. danh35 - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    Maybe Kershaw would be starting if he wasn’t 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA in the NLCS last year.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      Oh snap. BURN!

    • Bob Loblaw - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:00 PM

      So frigging true. Maybe this year, if they make the playoffs, Kershaw can pitch well and get his manager the job in 2015…

    • paperlions - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:22 PM

      He might also be starting if he didn’t have a back injury that kept him out a month.

    • rkstevens111 - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:08 PM

      Maybe if Wainwright hadn’t gone 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA, the Cardinals would have won the World Series last year.

      • wannabebluesplayer - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:22 PM

        So you reply to poster saying Kershaw lost the series BEFORE the World Series with Wainwright losing two games IN the World Series…let that permeate a bit…Wainwright was at least IN the World Series…I didn’t see a Dodger there.

      • yahmule - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:43 PM

        I think you’re all acting stupid.

  7. kingscourt25 - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    Kershaw is better than Wainwright and is the best pitcher in baseball, but 40 innings difference is huge. I’m sure the Dodgers would’ve rather had Kershaw pitch those 40 innings instead of Maholm, Red Patterson, etc. The Dodgers would also likely be up more than a game in their division, as well.

  8. moogro - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    Start, shmart. That’s a meaningless stat one uses to inflate a bio. They pitch one inning.

    • paperlions - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      Hey! Sometimes they pitch TWO innings! County ’em. One. Two. Hahaha, two innings.

  9. kycardsfan - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:30 PM

    Congrats Waino!

    • kycardsfan - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:35 PM

      Also have some consistency in the posts, in the post with Felix he wrote Sale had an ERA .04 points lower but Felix had 50 more innings, Kershaw has an era .05 points lower but 42 less innings than Waino and it took a 41 inning scoreless streak to get there. Waino has been consistently good all season! I know it’s splitting hairs but I’m already tired of people suggesting this was a mistake.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:50 PM

        I believe the difference in in perception here. As stated above, Kershaw is regarded by most people as the best pitcher in the world right now, and is the reigning CY Young winner. Sale can’t match Kershaw in terms of reputation, so his “snub” is far less newsworthy.

      • kycardsfan - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:01 PM

        If people want to complain, complain about Jeter. I understand it’s his last season but he is no all-star this season. No outrage for him starting and batting leadoff though, in a game that “counts”.

      • stercuilus65 - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:29 PM

        If Waino has been more consistent than Kershaw as you imply why does he have two clunkers (4ip,5er and 5ip,7er) to Kershaw’s single bad outing?

  10. okwhitefalcon - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:38 PM

    Either one would have been a fine choice but I love the Wainwright pick solely on the blowback it will cause from the usual blogosphere suspects.

    There is nothing more entertaining than watching Joe Sheehan’s, Calcaterra’s and the rest of the Stepford bloggers’ collective heads literally explode – it’s hilarious.

  11. edelmanfanclub - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    Does Kershaw deserve to start? Yes, I’m sure it wouldn’t even be a close comparison if he had didn’t miss those five starts. Its not a big deal really in retrospect, since neither was snubbed as an All Star in general. Kershaw will be pissed like when they let Harvey start over him.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 15, 2014 at 4:49 PM

      Actually, he’s not, and just said so.

  12. drewnichols81 - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    Maybe the Dodgers shoulda won the pennant

    • schlom - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:58 PM

      They might have if Kershaw didn’t get lit up in Game 6 of the NLCS!

    • rkstevens111 - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:11 PM

      So basically if your team wins the pennant, the winning manager can make any dick move he wants in the following season’s All Star game (even if his teams gets pounded in the World Series). Good to know…

      • stlouis1baseball - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:22 PM

        “Dick move?” Yep…he chose Micha Phuqing Owings over Clayton Kershaw.

  13. cincinata - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    This has little to do with what happened last year. In my view, both guys are ace’s. It is just a matter of who the manager wants to start. This could be a mistake also, because we have seen Wainwright have big problems in early innings at times. It seems the only way to beat him is to score early in the game and try to keep the lead till the 9th.

  14. cincinata - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:01 PM

    And, why not Alfredo Simon? Cueto could start also if he didn’t pitch yesterday. He may be better as either guy mentioned, IF he had any support.

    • okwhitefalcon - Jul 14, 2014 at 3:32 PM

      Another attempt at making this (as you do many others) a Reds thread, epic fail.

      Infinity thumbs down.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:23 PM

      “And, why not Alfredo Simon?”

      Ummm….just a guess. But I am going to lean towards…Brian Price isn’t selecting the starter?

  15. elmo - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    Those 40 extra innings may give Waino the edge for the ASG but if it means Kershaw is less fatigued overall in September and October, it may prove to be a useful edge for Clayton.

    • kycardsfan - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:16 PM

      That may be so, Waino led the league in innings pitched last season. 5 ahead of Kershaw. He’s 6 innings off the league lead this season. Eventually those may catch up to him.

      • gostlcards5 - Jul 15, 2014 at 2:16 PM

        Meh….Waino also doesn’t pitch as many warm-up pitches to get loose before each inning because of his time as a closer. There was a story a few years ago, I think, that illustrated how many less pitches he actually throws over a period of time (months, a season). The difference was substantial, and I believe a key reason that he is able to be in the top few pitchers in IP every year.

      • SocraticGadfly - Jul 15, 2014 at 4:55 PM

        Counting postseason, he had a full 300 IP last year. With the extra rounds of playoffs, it’s something to keep in mind when people say, “But oldtimers pitched until Old Hoss Radbourn’s mustache fell off!”

  16. Bob Loblaw - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    I love the twitter outrage that is being spewed by Keith Law and Joe Sheehan. It’s like someone took a poop in their cheerios this miniscule difference between AW and CK. I couldn’t care less either way, but when Law is mad, it gives me a good chuckle. He just tweeted this, trying to be funny I guess:

    “”I didn’t vote for Kershaw because if he was so good how come he never started an All-Star Game?” – some mouth-breathing HoF voter in 2030″

    So douchy

    • Rich Stowe - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      there are voters that will use that reasoning though – just like some voters held Blyleven’s lack of a Cy Young against him (though some voters would then vote for Morris who had the same issue – namely Jon Heyman)….even sadder – some of these voters don’t vote for a player for an award like that initially and then decades later use the fact they didnt’ win that award against them for the HOF…nailing them twice with the same award (or lack thereof)

    • paperlions - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:31 PM

      Is that your evidence for him being mad? If so, then you should know that he was being sarcastic, mocking the fact that many HOF voters use exactly this kind of “logic” when justifying their votes.

      • Bob Loblaw - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:43 PM

        Well garsh paperbag…I did not know that was sarcasm from Keith Law, hater of all things old school. I thought maybe he seriously thinks this is going to affect Kershaw’s HOF chances.

        By the way, my saying i didn’t know it was sarcasm from Law…is SARCASM.

      • paperlions - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:45 PM

        Sorry dickhead. Considering your love of all things old school, I figured sarcasm probably wasn’t your style….especially because you saying you were being sarcastic is inconsistent with thinking Law gives a crap about who starts the ASG and enjoying his alleged anger.

      • Bob Loblaw - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:48 PM

        Dude, if Law didn’t give a crap he wouldn’t be all over twitter all day talking about how much of a travesty it is. No go blow the guy and leave me alone, dickhead.

      • paperlions - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:52 PM

        By that logic, you must really care a lot what he thinks, seeing as how you follow him on twitter, where as I only occasionally read his stuff on ESPN. Poor logic, name calling and homophobia, where do your skills end?

      • Bob Loblaw - Jul 14, 2014 at 3:06 PM

        So you argued something you had no clue about, then called me a name which I called you back the exact name, and you call me a name caller? Paperbag, you once again win the stupid award. Seems like every time you go up against me, you win that award. Why don’t you make like a tree and get out of here.

      • paperlions - Jul 14, 2014 at 3:08 PM

        Right, because “Paperbag” was not meant as an insult.

        Look, you said something poorly thought out and inconsistent because you really hate Keith Law. Then compounded it with homophobia and more inconsistency.

      • beepbeepbeeplgb - Jul 14, 2014 at 3:17 PM

        man, u sure have become unbearable.

    • okwhitefalcon - Jul 14, 2014 at 3:00 PM

      That’s exactly why I love the Wainwright pick, the oh so predictable, self righteous outrage being “spewed” (great word) may be better than the game itself.

      Sheehan has now resorted to blogger on blogger crime with’s Matthew Leach accusing Leach of being in bag for Wainwright since Leach covered him while being’s Cardinal correspondent from 2000 whatever til 2012.

      Sheehan even seems outraged by the use of the word “outrage” when describing his disgust with the Wainwright decision.

      • Bob Loblaw - Jul 14, 2014 at 3:08 PM

        It’s been enjoyable killing a couple boring hours today watching those bozos go crazy over something so silly. As I said, it’s so close between their two first-halves and really, that’s all it’s about. Not careers. Yet Sheehan keeps arguing Kershaw’s career to the point where he sounds silly now.

      • okwhitefalcon - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:06 PM

        Sheehan has reached new depths of buffoonery with this latest diatribe, I don’t think he even has any idea how goofy he comes off with every additional tweet which makes it even more funny.

  17. Bob Loblaw - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    So you argued something you had no clue about, then called me a name which I called you back the exact name, and you call me a name caller? Paperbag, you once again win the stupid award. Seems like every time you go up against me, you win that award. Why don’t you make like a tree and get out of here.

  18. jre80 - Jul 14, 2014 at 3:10 PM

    If dodgers go to World Series last year, then mattingly coulda chose kershaw over waino, but they didn’t. The cardinals went to World Series and picking your own guys is a perk of that previous years achievement. A bigger homer move by matheny that should be argued is neshek and/or carpenter making the team.

    • stercuilus65 - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:37 PM

      Shouldn’t winning the Cy Young be perk worthy then?

  19. stex52 - Jul 14, 2014 at 3:14 PM

    Geez, what a cranky crowd. The two pitchers easily identifiable as the best in the NL over the last few years are pitching in the ASG. One will pitch up to two innings, then the other will pitch up to two innings. There is no stated criterion for who should start, and they have both had great seasons to date.

    Why not enjoy them both?

    • gloccamorra - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:23 PM

      Wise guy, eh?

  20. stercuilus65 - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:41 PM

    The major difference between the two that nobody has mentioned is that Waino will be pitching on two days rest vs a normal four for Kershaw.
    Matheny said the goal was to win the game but his actions put lie to those words because the odds obviously favor getting a better performance from a rested Kershaw vs Waino on two days.

  21. kevinsterne - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    cardinal bias much? oh and he bats lucroy and gomez 8 and 9 respectively because he didn’t like the brewers pr campaign video. class act that matheny

    • okwhitefalcon - Jul 14, 2014 at 7:23 PM

      Brewers fan inferiority complex much?

  22. yahmule - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:10 PM

    I love Clayton Kershaw like a niece and just can’t seem to get myself worked up about this. Maybe because Adam Wainwright is a great pitcher and he’s having a great season.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 15, 2014 at 5:00 PM

      I hope you’re not in Arkansas loving him like a niece! :)

  23. gloccamorra - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:29 PM

    Matheny will probably let Wainwright go nine. He wants that home field advantage.

  24. astrozac - Jul 15, 2014 at 12:19 AM

    Let Waino, have this. The know it all media has already given Kershaw the Cy Young for this season, if even he falls apart and Wainwright goes 10-0 the rest of the year…

    Personally though I’d start Kershaw over Wainwright. I’d rather have Wainwright pitch on Thursday…

  25. kershawbestever - Jul 15, 2014 at 5:08 AM

    I understand Matheny’s decision. It is his guy and he is obviously gonna pick his guy. But there is no doubt who has had the better year so far and it is Kershaw. Kershaw is having possibly the best yea ever, and here is why. The scariest thing about Kershaw’s stats is that he has put up these numbers while having his most unlucky year of his career. Kershaw’s career BABIP is .255, this year it is .280 (worst luck of his career). Wainwright on the other hand has had the luckiest year of his career. His career BABIP is .275, this year his luck has been outstanding with a .250 BABIP. For those of you who don’t know what BABIP is, it is the batting average for balls in play. It is something the pitcher can’t control very much. It is astonishing that a player can post a 1.78 ERA with their most unlucky year of their career. The only reason Kershaw has been able to do this is because of his astonishingly amazing k/bb ratio. He has struck out 126 and only walked 13 lol. Hitters just simply aren’t putting the ball in play much, and when they do there usually aren’t any base runners on because he almost literally doesn’t walk anybody. The reason for this massive improvement is likely do to his slider. Every year it gets better and better. And his walk totals go down with each year. This year he has literally added 2mph on his slider. It currently sits at 87 mph which is up from 83 mph in 2011 (Cy Young year lol). Wainwright on the other hand only has a 4 to 1 ratio (Kershaw has nearly 10 to 1 ratio). He has struck out 118 and only walked 27. Which is great (but not close to Kershaw). With that ratio there would be no way Wainwright could have stats where they are without having his best BABIP ever. This isn’t a knock on Wainwright. Wainwright is an outstanding pitcher and I would take him over any pitcher in the world not named Kershaw. It just has to do with how great Kershaw is. Every year some pitcher has a career year in BABIP and competes with Kershaw for the All star game start and Cy young. Always a different pitcher, but always Kershaw battling with them. AGAIN, LOVER Wainwright, but even he has said “Kershaw sets the standard”.

    • gostlcards5 - Jul 15, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      I disagree with you totally. Pitchers can control BABIP by knowing the hitters and putting the ball in a good location (i.e. – to simplify for you, not throwing a belt-high fastball over the middle of the plate to a HR hitter).

      I do think Kershaw should have started over Waino, especially since Waino is on 2 days rest to CK’s 4, but even with that, knowing that he will only pitch a couple of innings doesn’t concern me too much about his ability to pitch well. Also, it’s not like you’re starting 500-yr old Jamie Moyer over Kershaw. Their numbers are very similar.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 15, 2014 at 5:03 PM

      Based on the previous thread, about Matheny’s choice, I just like downvoting your comments in general on this theme right now.

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