Waino Is a Big, Strong Man

So with Adam Wainwright running into trouble in back to back outings, it’s raised questions about his workload–in particular with these two losses falling after he pitched a season high 128 pitches in the complete game victory over Atlanta on August 23rd.

The Cardinals’ right-hander has maintained that physically he is “a big, strong man” and is fine. And at 6’7 and 235lbs, he’s got a point. But his track record actually supports his claim as well.

Going back to the 2009 season, Wainwright threw 120 or more pitches in four games. In the following effort, he recorded a victory for the Cardinals–going at least seven innings and throwing 100 pitches in all but one of those starts.

June 16…11-2 win vs DET…7 IP, 6 hits, 1 run, 2 BBs, 5 Ks…100 pitches

July 7…5-0 win at MIL…8.1 IP, 7 hits, 0 runs, 2 BBs, 9 Ks…121 pitches

July 12…4-2 in at CHC…8.0 IP, 7 hits, 2 runs, 3 BBs, 5 Ks…102 pitches

October 2…12-6 loss vs MIL…6.0 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 2 BBs, 8 Ks…90 pitches

In 2010, Wainwright went 20-11 on the season but did not break the 120 pitch count in any games. 2011 was lost to recuperation from Tommy John surgery and in 2012, his three highest counts were 119, 114, and 111 pitches.

Thus far in 2013, Waino has thrown 120 or more pitches in three games and the subsequent starts have resulted as follows:

May 16th…5-2 loss vs NYM…6 IP, 6 hits, 4 runs, 1 BB, 8 Ks…87 pitches

August 18th…6-1 win at CHC…7 IP, 5 hits, 1 run, 1 BB, 11 Ks…106 pitches

August 28th…10-0 loss vs CIN…2 IP, 8 hits, 9 runs, 2 BB, 2 K…53 pitches

Not that any of this is conclusive, scientific evidence but it would at least suggest that Wainwright has been fairly capable of handling the odd game where his pitch count exceeds 120.

Perhaps there is a mechanical issue–but with the Reds showing such an aggressive approach these last two games against Wainwright, don’t discount the idea of him tipping pitches. It was raised in the postgame Monday and based on a couple of conversations following the 2-inning stint in St. Louis, it seems even more probable that Cincy has picked up on something in Waino’s delivery.

My colleague Chris Duncan has often shared how good Chris Carpenter and Jim Edmonds were at detecting tells in pitchers, sure that Wainwright can bring them into the fold with Mike Matheny, Derek Lilliquist, Blaise Ilsley, Yadier Molina, video guru Chad Blair and the rest of the Cardinals brain trust to help get things back on track.