Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright nearly won the National League Cy Young Award last season and he has put his name atop the list of candidates again this year.
Through 20 starts, the 28-year-old right-hander is 14-5 with a 2.02 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and 130 strikeouts in 142 1/3 innings. He has four complete games and one shutout, and on Saturday night he was excellent once again.
Wainwright allowed only five hits over six scoreless innings and added three strikeouts to his season-long total as the Cardinals won their third consecutive game over the Dodgers. He also became the first St. Louis pitcher to win his first 10 starts at home since the fine folks at STATS LLC began recording such things in 1920. He has thrown 19 straight scoreless innings.
The success isn’t anything new for Waino, and it’s certainly not catching anybody by surprise. Cardinals fans, though, will be happy to know that he is still working to get better. At the All-Star Game last week, he learned Tim Lincecum’s changeup and used it in his first start of the second half.
“I asked him his changeup grip and he showed it
to me,” Wainwright said Saturday. “I hope this doesn’t get him in trouble but I
threw it in the bullpen during the All-Star game. I kind of worked with it
on the fly during the game today. I probably threw eight or 10 of them.
It’s a work in progress but it’s a certainly a good pitch.”
His ERA at Busch Stadium this year is 1.13 and he’s fired 27 consecutive quality starts at home. Back when Cardinals legend Bob Gibson recorded his famous 1.12 earned-run average in the summer of 1968, his home ERA was 1.41. In some ways this season, Wainwright has been better.
Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.
It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.
Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:
He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.
“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”
The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.