Has Wainwright already thrown his last pitch with the Cardinals?

Cardinals manager Oli Marmol said Tuesday that Wainwright will not pitch this coming weekend in San Diego.
;St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright tips his cap after earning the win in a...
;St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright tips his cap after earning the win in a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers for his 200th career victory Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)(Jeff Roberson | AP)
Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 1:20 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - It was a storybook moment on Monday at Busch Stadium as Adam Wainwright finally captured that elusive 200th win in front of an adoring and appreciative crowd—but was it also the final chapter in the story of Waino’s big-league playing career?

Cardinals manager Oli Marmol mentioned after Monday’s game that, speaking honestly, Wainwright would tell you he’s been held up by duct tape to get him across the finish line of the milestone achievement that he picked up in a 1-0 win over the Brewers. During his turn at the podium later in the night, the 42-year-old veteran pitcher conceded as much to the assembled reporters.

“It’s been a duct tape kind of year for me,” Wainwright said Monday. “I’ve had my arm taped a few times. Tonight, I had my back taped up. It’s just been really tough.

“When I’m healthy and going full steam, I can pitch pretty good. I’m very confident, still confident that I could do that if I was healthy. But I have not been healthy all year. The times that I felt like I was healthy—or getting there—I think it was really just me trying to talk myself into it. But I think that’s plain to see. I’m not telling anything to y’all that you don’t already know.”

After hearing that from the St. Louis icon after Monday’s triumph, it wasn’t so surprising to hear from Cardinals manager Oli Marmol Tuesday that Wainwright would not take the ball on turn for his next start in San Diego this coming weekend.

It’s also not definitive whether Wainwright will pitch again, period, in his Cardinals career—although if it happens, it will come in front of the home fans at Busch Stadium on the final weekend of the season., according to Marmol.

It’s a thought process that makes sense for Wainwright, given the nature of his physical health and his season to this point. Even after Monday’s throwback effort, the right-hander’s ERA in 2023 is a forgettable 7.40. Although reaching the 200-win checkpoint wasn’t necessarily the milestone that he set out to consider as a satisfactory stopping point at the beginning of the year, circumstances have dictated it as an admirable plateau—and one that has earned the 18-year MLB veteran some rest.

Whether Wainwright pitches again in front of the home fans on that final weekend—and whether such an appearance would be more symbolic in nature rather than a typical starter’s workload—are questions that will likely be answered in the coming days based on the cooperation of Wainwright’s body as it steps back from the rigors of the every-fifth-day routine.

Regardless of the resolution on that front, though, there could be another way Cardinals fans could see Wainwright participate in game action on that final weekend.

It was always something whispered in the periphery, but now that the end of Wainwright’s playing career is just a couple of weeks away, the clamoring for Marmol to give him an opportunity to step into the batter’s box one more time is going to ramp up.

For his MLB career, Wainwright has a respectable .193 batting average with a .511 OPS in 846 career plate appearances. But the universal designated hitter has eliminated his opportunities at the dish over the past two seasons.

Wainwright told Bally Sports Midwest that he’d like to get a few cuts in batting practice in order to prepare for a potential opportunity to pick up a bat in a game one more time.

“I want to hit BP a couple of times first so I’m prepared for that,” Wainwright said. “Because seeing big-league pitching for the first time in a couple years is not easy. But I’ll be ready either way.

“I’m a great hitter, just ask me. Or used to be anyway. I think people remember that.”

Jim Hayes of Bally Sports Midwest had the scoop on Tuesday’s pregame show, giving fans some up-to-minute insight on the saga. Marmol’s response to Hayes’ question of whether Wainwright would get the opportunity to hit at some point before the end of the year?

“We’ll see.”