For the first time in his career as a starter, Adam Wainwright turned in an ERA above 4.00 and posted a bloated 1.40 WHIP. However, he'd missed almost all of 2015 courtesy of a torn Achilles and it's not as though 2016 was a complete failure. His ERA was virtually the same between the first and second half of the year (4.49 versus 4.79) and his BB/9 was 2.7, his highest since 2007. Lefties and righties alike hit him with ease, combining for a career-high .287 batting average against and resulting in a 3.99 FIP -- his highest in any qualifying season. His hard-hit rate was a career high while his groundball rate was a career low. Given his reputation as an ace that stems from consistent dominance in recent years, particularly the 2010-14 stretch that saw him average a 2.83 FIP and 1.03 WHIP, Wainwright figures to be a fairly popular rebound candidate in 2017, but last season appears to be his new floor.
Wainwright gave up three earned runs (one earned) on five hits and a walk over four innings in Thursday's 5-3 Grapefruit League win over the Marlins. The veteran right-hander bounced back from a disastrous start last Friday versus the Mets to fire 47 of 71 pitches for strikes as per Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Wainwright is scheduled for one more outing before he makes his regular season debut in the Cardinals' second game. The four innings matched Wainwright's longest stint of the spring and left the two-time 20-game winner feeling particularly good about his cutter. "I had altered my cutter grip without knowing it," Wainwright said. "Today, the pitches that were 86, 87 [mph], those are cutters. Earlier in the spring, they were 82, 83 [mph]. So it's getting back to where it needs to be."
Wainwright, who was pounded for 10 earned runs on seven hits and four walks over 1.2 innings by the Mets on Friday, is taking the outing in stride, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports. "I'm very confident," Wainwright said afterward. "It's hard to look you in the eyes and say that after a 10-run game, but I'm very confident that things will be good. This is what Spring Training is for. Obviously, you don't want to go out there and give up 10 runs. But that's what we're here for." The veteran right-hander had given up just three earned runs over his first three spring starts coming into Friday's outing before imploding and coming well short of the five innings he'd hoped to pitch. Facing the Mets regulars, Wainwright endured a 33-pitch first inning and couldn't locate his fastball throughout his time on the mound. His day ended with a grand slam by Wilmer Flores and despite the nightmarish results, the two-time 20-game winner was already planning on reliving his start through film study in order to correct what went awry. "I'll watch that game pretty intensely the next couple days before my side [session], and then I'll get on the mound and get some good work," Wainwright said. "I'm not discouraged, though, because where I've been throwing the ball and the way I've been throwing the ball, it's not very much different. I just have to make some minor adjustments."
Wainwright gave up only an unearned run on four hits and two walks over four innings in Sunday's 9-9 Grapefruit League tie with the Marlins. He struck out three. The veteran righty worked up to 58 pitches, 36 of which he threw for strikes. Wainwright notably recorded two of his strikeouts with his curve, a pitch that he's focusing on this spring after feeling that it "was missing last year." His shakiest inning was the first, as he allowed his one run on two hits and a walk in that frame. Wainwright then faced the minimum number of batters over the next two innings, inducing a 5-4-3 double play after an Ichiro Suzuki single in the third. All in all, the two-time 20-game winner remains pleased with his progress and ability to use his full arsenal of pitches effectively this spring. "I was happy; it was a good step forward for me, with my pitch count going up a little bit," Wainwright said. "With my pitches, I kind of sequenced things a little bit better today. I worked in pitches I wouldn't normally, and I kind of liked it. So we'll see, I'm having fun pitching out there."
Wainwright (1-0) fired three scoreless innings in Tuesday's 9-2 Grapefruit League win over the Marlins, surrendering three hits and striking out two. After giving up a pair of solo home runs in his last trip to the mound against the Braves last Thursday, Derek Dietrich's double served as the longest hit against the former 20-game winner Tuesday. He scattered two other singles and fired 44 pitches overall, with a heavy emphasis on his changeup. Although he's focused on showcasing the pitch in past springs, Wainwright appears intent on utilizing it with regularity in the coming season despite only throwing it 2.3 percent of the time in 2016. That notion was only reinforced by the effectiveness with which Wainwright deployed it Tuesday, something that didn't escape his boss's attention. "Whenever you're seeing the hitters up there taking the swings that they're taking, it's just a great sign," manager Mike Matheny said. "A lot of the times it's hard to even tell from the side because it has a lot of characteristics as far as depth and speed as his cutter when he throws it in the mid-80s. But definitely some great results against those left-handed hitters. That cutter will speed them up and the changeup, obviously, will slow him down."
Wainwright surrendered three earned runs on three hits, including two home runs, in a 9-4 Grapefruit League win over the Braves on Thursday. The two-time 20-game winner had a rocky go of it in the first inning of his spring debut, giving up all three of his runs on a solo homer by Dansby Swanson and a two-run blast by Adam Walker later in the frame. Wainwright had some positives during the inning despite the trouble, sandwiching punch-outs of Anthony Recker and Matt Tuiasosopo around Walker's round-tripper. He then cruised through the second, setting down Ronald Acuna, Lane Adams and Sean Kazmar in order to wrap up his afternoon. Putting the uneven stat line aside, the veteran actually came away pleased with the first of what could potentially be six spring starts. "[I'm] just trying to build off of a great offseason and spring so far," Wainwright said afterward. "I don't love giving up homers, but I'm actually really, really fired up about my stuff right now. I have to work on my cutter. Both of the homers were on sloppy cutters, but the other stuff was really good."