What A White Whale Tells Us About Adam Wainwright's ERA

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - MARCH 13: Pitcher Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals throws against the New York Mets at Digital Domain Park on March 13, 2012 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

Well, for starters he's 0-3 with a 9.88 ERA.

Three starts into Adam Wainwright's comeback from Tommy John Surgery, that's a little scary.

Adam Wainwright used to be one the National League's best pitchers. He finished third in Cy Young balloting in 2009, second in 2010. Then he tore an elbow ligament, and missed 2011. We all know that pitchers often come back strong from TJS, sometimes just as good as before and sometimes even better.

It's probably safe to say that not many Cy Young candidates open the season with a 9.88 ERA in their first three starts.

Which makes you wonder if Wainwright's even close to being what he was. Or even close to being good this season.

The thing is this, though ... In those three starts, Wainwright's really done just one thing wrong.

He's given up five home runs.

That's a lot. In 2010, Wainwright gave up 15 home runs in 230 innings. In 2009, he gave up 17 home runs in 233 innings. This season, five in 13⅔ innings.

He's otherwise been fine. His fastball's averaged only 89 miles per hour, but then he was never a big fastball guy. Yes, his fastball's down maybe a tick or two from 2009 and '10, and that's something to watch. But he's always relied on his breaking pitches, and he's throwing those pitches as hard as ever. His strikeout rate is the best of his career, and his walk rate is perfectly typical. His ground-ball rate is normal.

Wainwright has simply given up three or four more home runs than his history would have suggested. Which might be a terrible augur, or might just be three or four unlucky (for him) swings of the bat and depressing trajectories.

Chance does, after all, have the last featuring blow at events.

Especially when the events consist of 13⅔ innings.

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