After winning 14 of 19 games against the Pirates last season, the Cardinals beat them 5-4 on Opening Day at Busch Stadium.
Wainwright (14-10, 4.19 ERA last season) was 3-0 with a 3.41 ERA in five starts against the Pirates in 2019. He is 16-7 with a 4.24 ERA in 42 career games against them, including 36 starts.
First-year Pirates manager Derek Shelton will counter with starting pitcher Trevor Williams (7-9, 5.38 ERA last season). Williams was 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in two starts against the Cardinals last season and he is 4-4 with a 5.19 ERA in 14 career games against them.
Wainwright drew the season's second start on the strength of the throwing program he maintained during the pandemic shutdown.
"I'm going to petition the league to see if these innings are going to count on the back of my baseball card," Wainwright said. "There's no question in my mind I would have won June Pitcher of the (Month). I got every one of those ghosts out every single time. When I was throwing bullpens off wood platforms earlier this year, I was hitting every spot. I had to have won Pitcher of May. April, probably, too."
He reported to Summer Camp with enough arm endurance to work deep into games. That put him ahead of younger members of the starting rotation who were still building up their arms.
"I think every pitcher is feeling pretty good about the time we had off," Wainwright said. "Unfortunately, you had time off but it does give you time to prepare more and rest up and get your body strong."
Josh Bell (6-for-20, double, homer, four walks, three runs, five RBIs, .900 on-base-plus-slugging percentage) and Adam Frazier (6-for-22, three walks, two homers, five runs, three RBIs, .906 OPS) are among the Pirates who have done damage against Wainwright.
Like Wainwright, Williams has been eager to work in a real game after the long pandemic shutdown.
"Once we get the competitive juices flowing pitching against another team, that's when all the switches are flipped," Williams said. "I think we had enough time in our three-week buildup to get everybody ready. I feel ready to go. I think everybody feels ready to go, and there's just extra buzz in the clubhouse, especially, on the road."
He pitched Monday night in an exhibition game against the Cleveland Indians and threw six curveballs. This was a new wrinkle because he threw just 27 of them during the previous two regular seasons combined.
"We were able to execute it in situations where we wanted to execute it and get a feel for it early in the game, both from the windup and the stretch," Williams said. "We're gonna see how it (works) as a weapon for me. It could change start to start. It just kind of depends on what our scouts tell us."
Cardinals Paul DeJong (6-for-17, three doubles, homer, four RBIs), Matt Carpenter (8-for-23, two doubles, three homers, six walks, 1.309 OPS), Dexter Fowler (6-for-16, two walks, two runs, two RBIs), Kolten Wong (6-for-13), and Paul Goldschmidt (5-for-13) have all hit well against Williams.
Wong had missed Wednesday's exhibition game against the Kansas City Royals with a stiff neck, but he was in the leadoff spot on Opening Day. The Cardinals opened with an unclaimed spot on their 30-man roster with reliever Giovanny Gallegos not quite ready for active duty.
--Field Level Media