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Adam Wainwright followed the script many predicted in his first season following his recovery from Tommy John surgery: start slow, then start picking up steam. While trying to restore his pinpoint location, he was smacked around to a 7.32 ERA in the opening month.
What hid beneath that, however, was a handy 21:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio that said his spotting wasn't far off. When he was hit, he was rocked - not a strange phenomenon for a hurler initially working off rust after a major reconstructive procedure.
His cumulative 9.09 K/9 and 1.87 BB/9 confirm signs of the old Waino. He's regaining his pitch-count efficiency, having logged seven frames in each of his past two starts - including a vintage seven-strikeout, one-run Sunday victory - and throwing a six-stanza gem April 24.
Eureka! He rediscovered his familiar curveball grip during a bullpen session before his final outing of last month.
Wainwright's fastball has shown more sink; his curveball, bite. The right-hander said that his Sunday start was "the first time all year I've felt extension out over the rubber and had better life on the fastball."
His velocity remains a step below what it was in 2010, and that'll prove problematic at times, and sustaining his pitch conservation will become a challenge as the year wears on. But Wainwright's strength is pitch variation; if and when his fastball punch returns to its acceptable level, it'll be a bonus. Plus, he's once again inducing grounders at an elite rate; leaving pitches high was a big concern considering low-zone offerings carry his approach.
If you think his owner is staring angrily at Wainwright's 5.61 ERA while ignoring his familiar Cy Young peripherals, ask about the righty's price before he more blatantly hits his stride. Your buy-low window is closing.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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