When the Cardinals won the World Series in 2006, Wainwright was still a closer. When they returned in 2011, he was recovering from Tommy John surgery.
He's never made an NLCS start.
Wainwright's last performance was one of his worst. In Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals, Wainwright lasted only 2.1 innings giving up six runs on seven hits including two home runs and a triple.
Was he relieved to see his team pull out a win?
"Very relieved," Wainwright said Wednesday afternoon. "That was not the performance I was expecting to have for a Game 5, winner-take-all game, I promise you that."
Going into the game, there was no doubt Washington had the momentum, given Jayson Werth's walk-off home run.
"I think they wanted to come out and make a statement," he said. "They certainly did that. I made bad pitches and they hit the bad pitches. I also made a few good pitches and they hit those, too. I think it's just a time you tip your hat and you move on."
That's exactly what he's done and he said he feels good about his game. Despite returning from Tommy John surgery, he said he feels his game has improved throughout the season.
"I would say right now my curveball is probably the best it's ever been," Wainwright said. "And I would say the zip of my fastball is maybe a touch down from where it has been in the past. But I think physically, from a 'how's your arm feeling' kind of standpoint, my arm feels probably better than it usually does at this point in the year, for whatever reason, whether it be all the rehab or whatnot."
Thursday evening, Wainwright will put that arm to its biggest test this season. Regardless of the pressure, he feels good about his chances and is sure this won't be his last postseason start.
Who is the Cardinals "true" ace?
"One thing I'm very confident about, I look at the last game and I didn't pitch well, but I am so confident that this team and organization is going to give me so many more chances in the playoffs to rebound from that, that I really don't—I really don't even worry about that last start," Wainwright said.
"For one, we won the game. But for two, I plan on having a long postseason career. I really think we have a team and an organization that's going to make that happen. You just look to your next start and hopefully I have a whole lot more playoff starts to prove that I'm worthy of pitching in the LCS."
What are the chances? Adam Wainwright thinks they have a good shot at going deep in October.
For the moment, Wainwright is focused on the present—delivering another punch to the San Francisco Giants to take his team one step closer to a second consecutive World Series trip.
"I don't worry about which round I'm in," he said. "Every start, you pitch like it's your last."
All quotes were obtained firsthand.