Monday, February 28, 2011

Cards ace Wainwright done for the season

The 2011 MLB season has not even finished spring training yet and already the St. Loius Cardinals are in a jam. Last week, those assessing the March madness odds note how the team found out that ace Adam Wainwright will have Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and miss the entire season.

Those looking ahead to March madness betting should note that Tommy John surgery reconstructs the ulnar collateral ligament, replacing it with a tendon from elsewhere in the body. The procedure requires months of recovery.

Wainwright, who won 20 games last year and was runner-up for the NL Cy Young Award, felt arm stiffness after a throwing session. He had also experienced soreness toward the end of last season and did not pitch during the entire month of September.

This is a huge blow for the Cardinals who are always a contender in the NL Central.
His loss leaves the team with a big hole in a starting rotation that for now includes Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook.

Now it is up to manager Tony La Russa to find someone to fill the void of Wainwright. La Russa has six or seven pitchers in camp who will have the opportunity to join the rotation. That list is headed by reliever Kyle McClellan and includes P.J. Walters, Lance Lynn, Adam Ottavino, Ian Snell, Brian Tallet and Brandon Dickson.

Wainwright went 20-11 with a 2.42 earned-run average last season, finishing behind Philadelphia's Roy Halladay in Cy Young balloting while making his first all-star team. His 2.93 ERA since 2007 trails only Halladay, and no NL pitcher threw more than Wainwright's 463 1-3 innings during the past two seasons.

Clearly this is a huge loss for the Cardinals as they try to make it back into the postseason and take a run at another World Series crown.

The Cardinals will also be without Nick Punto to start the 2011 campaign. Punto was lost for between eight and 12 weeks after having surgery to repair a tear in his lower abdomen. Punto was to have seen time mostly at third base.

The Cardinals entered the offseason with one of the best core groups in baseball. Now with Wainwright lost, more pressure will be put on Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and newly signed Lance Berkman.

Can La Russa pull off some of his magic once again and have the Cards in contention for the 2011 World Series? Only time will tell.

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