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Cardinals notebook: Adam Wainwright says missing 200-win mark is not that big a deal

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Waino and Molina set new major-league history with 325th start as batterymates

Fans angle to document St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (50) as he walks toward the bullpen to warm up before the start of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, at Busch Stadium. Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina took to the field for the 325th time as a major-league battery, breaking the record set in 1975 when Detroit's Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan got to 324.

At 195 wins and with just three, possibly four, starts remaining for him in the regular season, Adam Wainwright is not going to make it to 200 wins for his career in what could be his final season. The 200 number was a numerical goal for the 41-year-old Cardinals right-hander when the season started but Wainwright says falling short of that number would not influence his decision on whether or not to return for an 18th season in 2023.

“It’s a good round number,” said Wainwright of 200. “That year I could have won the Cy Young (Award), 2009, when I came out of (his final start) up 6-1 in the seventh inning ... that would have been my 20th win. Both of my runners I left out there scored. And then we gave up the rest of them.

“I was told that I would have won (the Cy Young) if I’d had won 20. Since I didn’t, then I didn’t.

“I bring that up because the other day a writer who’s been around a long time, said, ‘If you had 200, you’d probably get in.’” The writer wasn’t talking about Cy Young Awards. He was talking about the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

“If you don’t (get 200), then you probably won’t,” Wainwright quoted the writer as saying.

“But,” said Wainwright, “what if I win 199? I’ve pitched 17 years. You’re telling me that makes a difference? One win?

“That’s just crazy to me.”

Then Wainwright said, meaningfully, “The reason for me playing next year would not be to chase the Hall of Fame at all because I don’t think it would matter. I think people are going to either vote yes or no one way or the other— without next year. Maybe (200) changes it a little bit, but I don’t know if it changes it enough to matter.

“If I play, I’m going to play because I love to play. I can’t do anything about voters.

“But the number I would play for next year would be Jesse Haines.’”

Hall of Famer Jesse “Pop” Haines won 210 games as a Cardinal, second to Hall of Famer Bob Gibson’s 251 in club history. “That (210) would be the number I’d be chasing — just for my own personal validation,” Wainwright said. “And (Haines) is in the Hall of Fame.”

Wainwright has missed one season (2011) with elbow surgery and most of 2015 after an Achilles’ tear. Those might have cost him 30 wins and then Wainwright, indeed, could be on track for the Hall, where he surely would join current teammates Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, who already have announced their retirements for October or November, depending on how far the Cardinals might advance in the postseason.

Wainwright has done something that few Hall of Fame starters have done —close out a World Series as a reliever as he did in 2006. He is 3-4 in postseason play, noting that he got few runs when he pitched well and many runs when he had pitched poorly.

In postseason play, he has opposed Max Scherzer, Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw and Jon Lester — all potential Hall of Famers — twice each. “I’m not pitching against slouches,” Wainwright said, chuckling.

The decision is TBD.

“I wouldn’t come back next year if I didn’t think I was going to be good,” Wainwright. “I definitely wouldn’t come back if I didn’t think we could win.”

Carlson begins rehab; Matz has one outing left

Center fielder Dylan Carlson, who has a left thumb sprain, began his injury rehabilitation assignment on Friday while playing for Memphis at Iowa. Carlson had been programmed to play seven innings in the field on Friday, serve as the designated hitter on Saturday and then play in the field again on Sunday before traveling with the Cardinals to his native California on Monday for the start of an eight-game trip.

It was decided to give left-hander Steven Matz (torn ligament, left knee) one more relief outing for Memphis at Iowa on Sunday.

“One more time wouldn’t hurt,” said manager Oliver Marmol. Matz, normally a starter, has worked two perfect innings in his previous two outings, his latest being on Thursday night, on the rehab program.

When the switch-hitting Carlson returns, he is likely to be in the lineup against left-handed pitching because Carlson’s right side is his better side. Marmol is weighing how to use Matz and, at first, had said he would be reluctant to put Matz in high-leverage spots immediately on the West Coast trip.

“But, with his experience level,” said Marmol, “I would be tempted to just throw him in there when we need outs. I’m not sure yet.”

Walker, Winn, Hence to Fall League

Infielder/outfielder Jordan Walker, the Cardinals’ top prospect, and shortstop Masyn Winn, who was the club’s second-round choice behind first-round pick Walker in the 2020 amateur draft, will play for the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League, which begins on Oct. 3.

Right-hander Tink Hence, who was a competitive balance pick in the 2021 draft, also is among a group of eight Cardinals prospects who will play for Salt River. Walker, Winn and Hence all are 20 years old.

Walker, before Saturday, was hitting .308 at Class AA Springfield with 18 homers, 22 steals and an .898 OPS. Winn, who has split his season between Class A Peoria and Springfield, was hitting .285 with 35 doubles, eight triples and 12 homers while stealing 41 bases in 46 tries.

Hence had a 1.38 earned run average for 16 starts at Low-A Palm Beach. He had 81 strikeouts and just 15 walks in 52 1/3 innings.

The other five Cardinals’ minor leaguers who will participate in Arizona are right-handers Kyle Leahy and Ryan Loutos, left-hander Connor Thomas, catcher Pedro Pages and outfielder Mike Antico, who has stolen 65 bases between Peoria and Springfield and hit 14 homers while averaging .249.

Hudson by day, Quintana by night

Right-hander Dakota Hudson will be brought up from Memphis as the 29th player for the day-night doubleheader and will start Saturday’s first game of the day-night doubleheader. Lefthander Jose Quintana will pitch the night game with Andrew Knizner catching, as he did Friday night. Molina will catch Hudson.

Pujols caught a ceremonial first pitch on Friday from former Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez.

Marmol upset by Friday loss

The Cardinals still are chasing the New York Mets or Atlanta Braves for the second seed in a potential National League playoff picture. But the hidden element in this is that the Cardinals, if they win the Central Division, would have to win one more game than the Eastern Division champion because both the Mets and Braves won the season series from the Cardinals and that would be the tiebreaker.

“That’s why guys aren’t satisfied by what happened yesterday (3-2 loss),” said Marmol, who was less than pleased himself.

Marmol was disappointed at not taking advantage Thursday of Cincinnati starter Chase Anderson, whom the Cardinals had batted out in the second inning the last time they faced him. Anderson one-hit the Cardinals for five innings on Thursday as the Cardinals lost for the fifth time in 10 games.

“You find a way to beat that guy yesterday,” said Marmol. “When you don’t do that, is it concerning? No. I’m not concerned. It’s frustrating. It ticks me off. I’m not concerned. I’m not worried. I’m mad.”

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