Adam Wainwright

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Adam Wainwright to finish the season in the bullpen

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Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright was shut down in late August — and received a platelet-rich plasma injection — due to a right elbow impingement. He pitched a simulated game yesterday and seemed OK to return, but he’s going to return in a different role: reliever. As MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports, it’s simply a matter of time: Wainwright doesn’t have enough time to be stretched out to starting stamina once again before the season ends.

It also may have to do with the fact that the Cardinals just got swept by the Cubs, pushing them back six games in the Central with less than two weeks to play. No one in St. Louis will admit it’s over yet, but I wonder if the long odds of them making the playoffs counsel a more cautious approach with Wainwright. Or if, had they kept things tight with Chicago, he’d be pushing to take the ball as a starter, stamina be damned. He’s certainly gutted through worse things in the past.

Not that Wainwright can’t help the Cards try to do the very difficult from the pen. As you probably remember, Wainwright started his Cardinals career out of the bullpen, throwing 61 games in relief back in 2006, plus nine more games in the playoff as the Cards won the World Series. He likewise came out of the pen for the club in the 2015 playoffs, pitching three games in relief in St. Louis’ NLDS loss.