Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright is scheduled to start the 2018 season on the disabled list, club manager Mike Matheny announced Sunday. Wainwright was scratched from his scheduled Grapefruit League start against the Nationals with a left hamstring strain, which appears to be serious enough that he won’t be able to make his first start of the season next weekend.
The 36-year-old right-hander is approaching his final year in a Cardinals uniform. He went 12-5 in 23 starts with a career-worst 5.11 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 and 7.0 SO/9 through 123 1/3 innings in 2017. Despite his underwhelming performance last season, he looked dominant at the start of camp, allowing just two runs and two walks and striking out 10 batters in 10 2/3 innings of Grapefruit League play.
Without Wainwright, rookie right-hander Jack Flaherty will break camp with the Cardinals and take over the no. 5 spot in the rotation. Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha and Luke Weaver will handle the first road trip of the year, with Weaver supplanting Wainwright for next Sunday’s matchup against the Mets.
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.