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Cardinals Reason #20: A Season of Wainwright’s Arm

The Cardinals ace lost an entire season to an Achilles injury in 2015. But this could spell could news for the 2016 club.

Adam Wainwright‘€s first game in Spring Training was a rocky one. He struggled with his command and locating the strike zone. He threw two innings and uncharacteristically walked three batters. However, he did not give up a run. This was his first time starting a game since injuring his Achilles Tendon last April.

However, Cardinals fans shouldn’t worry about Wainwright. As he pitches more in Spring Training, he will get sharper, in preparation for his Opening Day start at Pittsburgh.

There is one thing for certain right now: Wainwright’s arm is fresh and he is ready to go. When talking about what the last year meant for his arm, he said “My arm is reaping the rewards from taking that time off, for sure. That time off has certainly helped me in the long run, I think, and that”€™s definitely the way I’m looking at it.”

In a recent Spring Training interview, Wainwright said, “My body feels great. I”m able to long toss now. When you can do those kind of things, its fun finding the balance of what your arm needs going out there every fifth day. You know if you need to stretch it out a little bit, build some strength, you can. There were times last year and the year before that where I’m throwing and I’m not able to do those kind of things.” Wainwright didn’€™t use to do things like long tossing in fear of overworking his arm.

Though already 34, the age in which most starting pitchers start to decline, this won’€™t be the case with Wainwright, given his unusual history. Wainwright was a reliever for his first couple years in the Major Leagues and he missed two of the last five seasons, so he doesn’t have much mileage at all. In comparison, at age 34, CC Sabathia had 2989 innings pitched while Wainwright only has 1570.

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak definitely agrees that his ace is still on top of his game. Mozeliak said, “He’€™s aged almost like a fine wine. He gets better, because he learns more. He studied the game and he’€™s very strategic in how he gets hitters out.”

If Wainwright can replicate the success he had the last two full seasons, he will be one of the best pitchers in the game. In 2013 and 2014, he went 39-18 with a 2.67 ERA and started an All-Star Game.

Wainwright is one of the biggest keys in this team’€™s success. However, for the time being, his arm looks fresh and he says he feels great, which is very good news for the Cardinals. Almost everybody is overlooking Wainwright coming into this year, but there’s no reason why he can’€™t succeed. Look out for Wainwright this year.

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