The 2016 season is finally complete and many Cardinals fans, myself included, breathed a sigh of relief. As I admitted to my wife almost a week ago, I was okay with the Cardinals missing the playoffs this season because I was tired of hoping. Tired of hoping that this team would find the next gear. Tired of hoping that they would click. Tired of hoping that things would finally fall their way. Tired of hoping they’d flip the switch.
If you’re like me, I was really excited at the prospect of bringing in Mike Leake. As I wrote last winter, my expectations for Leake were high because he’s a ground ball pitcher who is coming from one of baseball’s hitter’s paradises to one of the most pitcher friendly ballparks in the league. That should have meant the potential for a career year.
And he’s had it. The results just haven’t shown it.
There has been many bytes transmitted across the internet–perhaps the modern day equivalent of ink spilled–discussing the start that Adam Wainwright has had to the 2016 season. Many are questioning his place with the team and whether he can still be considered the team’s ace.
If an ace is the best pitcher in your rotation, Wainwright fits the definition. If an ace is one of the best 10 starting pitchers in the league, he still qualifies (10th in ERA+ among starting pitchers with at least 500 innings pitched since 2013). He had a career year in his last full season on the mound (153 ERA+ in 2014) and was off to the best start of his career in 2015 before tearing his Achilles tendon in his fourth start of the season.
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! The St. Louis Cardinals suck and the Chicago Cubs are unstoppable! Chicago Cubs: 2016 World Series champs. Let’s just give them the trophy and go home. I read an article the other day that said the Cardinals were closer to being a last place team than they were a first place team. Is anyone else tired of this crap or is it just me?
As the Cardinals prepare to play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim tonight, they are just 32 games into the 2016 season. That’s 20% if you prefer to deal in percentages. There is quite a bit of angst around the Cardinals right now. Some of it deserved, some of it not. The Cardinals have been so good for so long that anything less than excellence is revolting to fans’ tastebuds.
Coming into spring training this year there really wasn’t much of a question about the St. Louis Cardinals’ pitching staff. There were five healthy starting pitchers in Adam Wainwright, Mike Leake, Jaime Garcia, Michael Wacha, and Carlos Martinez ready to contribute. There was Tim Cooney and Marco Gonzales likely starting in Memphis waiting for an opportunity. Plus Tyler Lyons in the St. Louis bullpen who could always be stretched out if needed.