In what would be a devastating loss for the Cardinals and Wainwright owners alike, the runner-up for last year’s NL Cy Young is headed back to St. Louis for further tests on his right elbow after a Monday throwing session went awry. Reports indicate that the 6’7″ righty felt pain and stiffness yesterday, and further evaluation by trainers have led the team to believe that a significant ligament injury is possible.
Analysis: Panic has set in around Tony LaRussa’s club, as the cornerstone of their pitching staff may be headed for Tommy John surgery. Amassing 39 wins over the past two seasons, Wainwright and Chris Carpenter form one of the best 1-2 tandems in the game. A budding workhorse, the 29-year-old has established himself as an elite and irreplaceable arm within a divison that has suddenly become much more competitive considering the Brewers’ beefed up rotation. Fantasy owners who claim Wainwright as a keeper will certainly be holding their collective breath over the next 48-72 hours, along with all of St. Louis.
Projection: Although the verdict may not be in for several days, you can be sure that the Cards are already scrambling behind the scenes for a potential replacement in the rotation. Internal candidates include P.J. Walters, Lance Lynn, and veteran Ian Snell, with the upper hand probably going to Walters. However, a very serviceable option still remains on the free agent market in the form of Kevin Millwood. The two time 18-game winner could certainly benefit from a return to the National League, and has made it known that he is holding out for a Major League deal; something other rotation-thin teams such as the Yankees have been unwilling to offer thus far. I believe that Millwood would slot in nicely right behind Jaime Garcia, and could be good for 12-14 wins in 30+ starts.