Adam Wainwright: Is the St. Louis Cardinals SP Back for Good?

Zak SchmollAnalyst IMay 23, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 22: Starter Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the San Diego Padres at Busch Stadium on May 22, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Adam Wainwright looked dominant last night as he confounded the San Diego Padres and ended up with a four-hit shutout. Is this a sign that the old Wainwright has returned for good?

By the old Adam Wainwright, I mean the Adam Wainwright before he missed all of 2011 due to injury.

I mean the Adam Wainwright who went 11-3 with a 3.20 ERA in 2008, 19-8 with a 2.63 ERA in 2009 and 20-11 with a 2.42 ERA in 2010.

2012 has not been quite so kind to the 30-year-old right-hander.

He has started nine games and is carrying a 3-5 record with a 4.78 ERA.

I know that a quality start is a relatively arbitrary statistic, but it is still somewhat significant that Wainwright has only turned in three quality starts this season. He hadn't been pitching deep into games, and he had been allowing too many runs.

Is it possible that all of that shakiness might be a thing of the past? Is it possible that his shutout last night is a symbol that he really has returned to his dominant self?

One start doesn't necessarily mean that all of his troubles are over. One start is a very small sample size. It is not nearly enough information to definitively say that he will return to 2009 or 2010 form.

However, that being said, this is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. In 2010, he pitched five complete games. Stamina was one of his strengths.

He has now thrown more than 100 pitches in each of his past five starts. His arm is apparently starting to feel stronger, or at least the Cardinals are more willing to use him deeper into games.

Whichever one of these situations is true, last night and the four starts before that have proven that his stamina is back.

His effectiveness also appeared to be back last night, and while it cannot necessarily be an absolute sign that he will continue to dominate, it is a definite step in the right direction.

You need to dominate one time before you can dominate two times.

If both of them are truly here to stay, watch out for big things from Adam Wainwright.

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