Week Ahead: Appreciating Waino

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The annual MLB Hall of Fame induction always brings about some debate from the media about current players who belong in Cooperstown. Regardless of whether Adam Wainwright gets an invite, what he’s done over a 17-year career, including 2021, should be celebrated.

The right-hander has had an improbable late-career push, now at age 40. Since last season, Wainwright has clearly been the Cardinals best and most consistent starting pitcher, going 20-10 with a 3.02 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 217 strikeouts in 250 innings over 38 starts.

Wainwright’s resurgence is so incredible when we consider his four seasons leading up to his recent success. From 2016-2019, Wainwright never had an ERA better than 4.19 and cumulatively had a mediocre 4.58 ERA and 3.1 BB/9. His control has improved markedly recently (2.1 BB/9), and he’s leaned on his bread-and-butter curveball even more than earlier in his career.

The result is a pitcher who should get some Cy Young votes at age 40, currently sporting a 2.98 ERA with 15 wins in 28 outings. Following the announcement that battery-mate Yadier Molina would be returning for 2022, Wainwright announced with his family that he would do the same. Whether that happens in a Cardinals uniform is still unsettled, but Wainwright has certainly earned a big payday next season.

Fantasy managers who didn’t question Wainwright’s rebound in the shortened 2020 season have been rewarded. His 360 ADP in NFBC leagues before the season made Wainwright one of the best values of 2021, building on an impressive career resume that should be celebrated in the Cardinals Hall of Fame, if not MLB’s Hall.

-Wainwright isn’t MLB’s oldest starting pitcher, a title currently held by Mets lefty Rich Hill. The 41-year-old has had an up and down season between the Rays and Mets, but he’s come around in New York after a rough patch. He’s managed to pitch at least five innings in four consecutive starts, with a superb 2.45 ERA and 22/2 K/BB in 22 innings. New York has still been very conservative with the veteran, as he’s reached 90 pitches only once in nine starts with the team, but Hill is finishing the year strong after some brilliant pitching early in the year. He has a chance for a big two-start week at home vs. St. Louis and Philly.

-Among unlucky pitchers in 2021, few have a better claim that Eduardo Rodriguez. Returning from a lost 2020 season due to after-effects of COVID-19, the left-hander has a career-worst 5.15 ERA despite what’s actually a career-best 10.5 K/9 and 4.08 K/BB ratio. Rodriguez has almost missed bats on command, but his .358 BABIP is the worst in MLB by a wide margin. As you’d expect, all his ERA metrics show better performance that what we’ve actually seen including a 3.54 FIP and 3.64 SIERA. The pending free agent could be one of the offseason’s biggest bargains, as a result, but he still has a chance to finish his year on a high note with a two-start week against Seattle and Baltimore ahead.

-Speaking of unlucky pitchers, rookie Logan Gilbert can also make his case. The top prospect has shown some great flashes, including an ace-like 10.0 K/9 and 5.05 K/BB ratio, but he has a 5.10 ERA in 20 starts to show for it. A terrible three-game streak in late August killed Gilbert’s ERA, but he has managed to get out of his rut recently. He’s started September with back-to-back decent starts vs. the Astros, allowing only two runs in 9.1 innings. Next week’s two-start slate is an opportunity to keep that momentum going against Boston, followed by an easier matchup against the Royals.

Going Twice…

Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, September 10, and are subject to change.

American League

Strong Plays

Gerrit Cole: MIN, CLE

Nathan Eovaldi: @SEA, BAL

Frankie Montas: @KC, @LAA

Nestor Cortes: @BAL, CLE

Decent Plays

Alek Manoah: TB, MIN

Jake Odorizzi: @TEX, ARI

Aaron Civale: @MIN, @NYY

Drew Rasmussen: @TOR, DET

Eduardo Rodriguez: @SEA, BAL

Logan Gilbert: BOS, @KC

A.J. Alexy: HOU, CHW

At Your Own Risk

John Gant: @NYY, @TOR

Wily Peralta: MIL, @TB

Packy Naughton: @CHW, OAK

National League

Strong Plays

Logan Webb: SD, ATL

Sandy Alcantara: @WAS, PIT

Yu Darvish: @SF, @STL

Wade Miley: @PIT, LAD

Adam Wainwright: @NYM, SD

Decent Plays

Clayton Kershaw: ARI, @CIN

Anthony DeSclafani: SD, ATL

Jon Gray: @ATL, @WAS

Kyle Gibson: CHC, @NYM

Rich Hill: STL, PHI

Touki Toussaint: COL, @SF

At Your Own Risk

Mitch Keller: CIN, @MIA

Merrill Kelly: @LAD, @HOU

Jake Arrieta: @SF, @STL

Adrian Sampson: @PHI, @MIL

Streamer City

The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:

American League

Thursday, September 16: Paul Blackburn @ KC

Blackburn gets yet another favorable matchup next week at KC, which has the worst OPS against right-handers in the AL. The groundball specialist struggled at Toronto last weekend but has been solid overall since replacing Chris Bassitt in the rotation.

Thursday, September 16: Luis Patino vs. DET

Patino is still having hiccups at age 21 in the majors, but he’s shown strong flashes recently with a 3.41 ERA over his last six starts. He will get a Tigers lineup with a sub.-.700 OPS against right-handers next week.

Saturday, September 18: Brady Singer vs. SEA

Singer shouldn’t be available on the wire in your league with the way he’s pitched recently, and if he is, you have the power to change that. Over his last four starts, he has a 1.46 ERA and 23/9 K/BB in 24.2 innings. He will see rematch vs. a weak M’s lineup that he pitched well against on August 29.

National League

Tuesday, September 14: Tony Gonsolin vs. ARI

Gonsolin returned from his second stint on the IL due to a shoulder injury on Thursday, throwing three innings at St. Louis. The talented right-hander should get a larger workload against the lowly Diamondbacks next week, who have a .680 vs. right-handers.

Wednesday, September 15: Vladimir Gutierrez @ PIT

The opportunities to utilize Gutierrez recently have been many with Cincinnati’s weak schedule, and he has another great matchup next week. The Pirates remain dead last in OPS against right-handers.

Saturday, September 18: Bryse Wilson @ MIA

A former top prospect with Atlanta, Wilson has been solid since joining the Pirates with a 4.35 ERA and 1.19 WHIP over 31 innings. Miami hasn’t hit a lick against right-handers this season, with a .676 OPS, third worst in MLB.

Total Games

American League

6: BAL, BOS, CLE, CHW, DET, KC, LAA, OAK, SEA, TOR

7: HOU, MIN, NYY, TB, TEX

National League

5: MIL

6: ARI, ATL, CHC, CIN, COL, LAD, MIA, NYM, PHI, PIT, STL, WAS

7: SD, SF

The Infirmary

Here’s some injuries to prominent players from the last week, and other players to watch for in the coming week. You can get a full listing of injured players at NBCSports Edge’s Injury Page.

Jesus Aguilar: Placed on IL (knee)

JT Brubaker: Placed on IL (shoulder)

Tyler Clippard: Placed on IL (COVID-19)

Gerrit Cole: Day-to-day (hamstring)

Randy Dobnak: Placed on IL (finger)

Austin Gomber: Out for the season (back)

Matt Harvey: Placed on IL (elbow)

Eloy Jimenez: Day-to-day (knee)

Jonathan Loaisiga: Placed on IL (shoulder)

Matt Manning: Day-to-day (knee)

Shane McClanahan: Placed on IL (back)

Nick Pivetta: Placed on IL (COVID-19)

A.J. Pollock: Placed on IL (hamstring)

Hyun-Jin Ryu: Day-to-day (arm)

Chris Sale: Placed on IL (COVID-19)

Jameson Taillon: Placed on IL (ankle)

Justin Upton: Placed on IL (back)

Mike Yastrzemski: Day-to-day (ankle)