Adam Wainwright hanging on for one year too long with St. Louis Cardinals

The stage was set for Adam Wainwright. St. Louis Cardinals legends Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols retired after the 2022 season and it seemed that Wainwright was ready to join them. It was a perfect moment for that trio of Cardinals legends to ride off into the sunset together.

That was not the case. Wainwright decided to stick around for one more year, getting a chance to say farewell on his own. He is staring down a personal milestone as well as he is just five wins away from 200 in his career. If he reaches that plateau, Wainwright would help his Hall of Fame case.

Adam Wainwright missed perfect time to walk away for St. Louis Cardinals

It is fair to wonder if Wainwright stayed too long at the party. He struggled down the stretch last year, posting a 4.99 ERA and a 1.484 WHiP over his final 61.1 innings, striking out 40 batters with just 20 walks. Opponents posted a .289/.342/.366 batting line in their 272 plate appearances in that time. As his fastball has struggled to reach even the upper 80s, and at 41 years old, it is fair to wonder if he stayed too long at the dance.

There are some positives. Wainwright’s return helped stave off a great deal of turnover in the Cardinals’ rotation for one more year. He claims his decreased velocity is a matter of minor muscle issues in his back and upper legs. And he has done a solid job of keeping runs off the board in the World Baseball Classic this year.

That performance does not mean anything once the regular season begins. Likewise, his spring training numbers will be irrelevant on March 30. What matters is whether or not Wainwright will be able to keep runs off the board and put the Cardinals in a position to win. If those struggles continue at the beginning of the year, then he clearly missed his perfect ending.

Adam Wainwright came back for one more year with the St. Louis Cardinals. It could be that he stayed around one year too long.

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