2019 Projection Series - Adam Wainwright


Over the last 5 years, the average starter has this line in 30 starts:

In the last 5 years, Adam Wainwright has gone from being a #3 in the Cy Young Award race (2014), to only starting 68 games in the last 4 years...and only 390 1/3 innings in that time frame.


Father time has caught up to Adam Wainwright, along with a myriad injuries. For 2019, the Cardinals and Wainwright (and I) are hoping for a resurgence from the thirty-seven year old right-handed hurler entering his 14th season. He will attempt to pass the 1,500 inning mark for his career this season, needing just 68 complete innings. That’s 204 outs to get.


What’s interesting to me is that my projection system has him not only getting 68+ innings, but nearly doubling that. What’s completely fascinating to me is that it has Wainwright doing quite well in comparison to his last three years.


My projections for Wainwright’s 2019 season:

23 GS, 122 innings, 5.304 IP/GS 4.28 ERA, 3.80 FIP, 1.402 WHIP, 2.54 K:BB

9.59 H/9, 7.672 K/9, 3.025 BB/9, 0.885 HR/9


So that is most definitely better than I thought the numbers would be. They show that he’s obviously no longer an ace, and very well may not be a league average pitcher, but he’s pretty close to the league average pitcher of the last 5 years if he does that. He doesn’t throw the innings of a league average guy, per my projections, but his innings are #4 starter type. Not a #5. Not a #6. Not a swing man. Not a long man. They’re decent for a #4 guy.


What can be pointed out to show that things CAN be better than that?!?


MLB League average pitching last year allowed an average exit velocity of 87.3 mph with an average launch angle of 10.9 degrees. That’s an xBA of .246, xSLG of .402, and xwOBA of .314. Wainwright’s 2018 season had an average exit velocity of 84.3 mph (3.0 mph better than league average), 8.4 degree launch angle (2.5 degrees lower than league average), and xBA/xSLG/xwOBA of .232/.379/.308. His “hard hit %” was just 67.7% of league average! That’s 1/3 less hard hit balls than league average (by percentage of pitches)!


Even moreso, his curve seemed to be back. No, wait. Capital B, back! His curve elicited just 10 hits in 73 PA that ended with the pitch. He only allowed 1 extra base hit out of those 10. Batters swung and missed at 1 out of ever 3 curveballs Wainwright threw. 34.2% of PA ending in a curveball ended with a K. Here’s one of those swings and misses on a curve.


How/If things go wrong:


Um. Literally NONE of the other 5 types of pitches (sinker, four seam fastball, cutter, change up, eephus) had league average or better results - with some (read: most) of them being downright abysmal. He ended 73 PA with a curve and allowed the 10 hits, 1 for extra bases that I previously mentioned. He allowed 12 xbh on the 107 PA (to go along with 19 singles) that ended on a pitch not called a curve ball.