Wainwright to Bullpen Is a Possibility, but Only if He Comes Back Strong in September

It’s a sensible question given he’s done a nice job there before: Would the Cardinals plug Adam Wainwright into a postseason bullpen role if they make it that far?

It wouldn’t likely be a question if Waino hadn’t been on the shelf since August 18 with elbow inflammation. And it wouldn’t likely be a question if Jack Flaherty hadn’t done an admirable job filling in a rotation spot this month.

It also probably wouldn’t be a question had the beloved Wainwright not had such an up-and-down season…But all those things have happened and the question therefore remains.

Our Cardinals insider Jen Langosch says there’s no specific timetable for Waino’s return, but that both his and Flaherty’s workloads could depend on each other.

“It is still an ‘if’ that Adam Wainwright comes back this month,” Langosch recently told The Turn. “He’s optimistic of course, as he always is with everything and hopes to get on the mound this week. I think some of this honestly depends on Jack Flaherty’s status.

“If you get to a point later in September where the Cardinals have to shut down Jack Flaherty because of innings concerns…It makes a lot of sense to slide (Wainwright) back into the rotation because you really don’t have anybody else to plug that spot.”

As for Wainwright in October?

“You could slot him into the bullpen potentially, but that’s of course assuming he comes back strong,” Jen added. “Adam Wainwright’s season had been very uneven even before the injury. Is he going to be able to come back and be dominant right away? I don’t know. I think a lot of this will depend on his health and what we see from him in those final two weeks of September if he does come back.”

Will the Cardinals “Strasburg” Flaherty?

The Cardinals said they plan on limiting Flaherty’s innings, a-la the Nationals with Stephen Strasburg his rookie season; and John Mozeliak actually mentioned as much before the club called up the young hurler.

“(Mozeliak) mentioned that sort of 10 to 20 percent increase in terms of innings were probably where the Cardinals were going to be comfortable as far as what Jack threw last year compared to this year,” Langosch said. “He’s getting pretty close to that 20 percent threshold.”

Flaherty’s next expected start is Wednesday and Jen says he could make another, but it will depend entirely on how many pitches he throws in his mid-week meeting with the Reds.

“I am not sure he’s going to be able to start every fifth day through the end of the season,” she added. “Just because the Cardinals are still concerned about what it would mean for him 2018 and beyond.”

Langosch also addressed whether the Cards will consider Juan Nicasio for their 2018 closer’s role, which you can hear below along with the entire interview:

More – The 2017 Cardinals: Maybe John Mozeliak Knew What He Was Doing All Along