In the least shocking bit of news you’ll hear this week, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny will send ace Adam Wainwright to the mound to start Game 1 of the World Series against the Red Sox, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY.
Wainwright has been nothing short of excellent for the Cardinals, dating all the way back to 2006. In 55.2 innings of work in the playoffs, Waino has a 2.10 ERA with 62 strikeouts and seven walks. During the 2013 post-season, he has gone at least seven innings and allowed two or fewer runs in all three starts.
While it would have been fun to see, there was no chance that 22-year-old phenom Michael Wacha would have gotten the nod in Game 1 despite being the Cardinals’ best pitcher throughout the 2013 playoffs, statistically speaking. In 21 innings over three starts, Wacha has a 0.43 ERA with 22 strikeouts and four walks.
The Red Sox have not announced their Game 1 starter yet, but it is expected to be lefty Jon Lester, who started Game 1 both in the ALDS against the Rays and in the ALCS against the Tigers.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.