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Adam Wainwright Is Defying The Odds At Age 39

I feel like people forget how good Adam Wainwright was there for a second. For a substantial period, he was a top 10 pitcher in all the baseball. From 2009 to 2014 (not excluding the 2011 season in which he was injured and missed the entire season), Wainwright was 92-50 with a 2.83 ERA. He threw 19 complete games over that stretch and pitched as many as 241.2 innings in a season. The prime of his career derailed when he tore his Achilles in the batter's box in 2015. This was another injury that you can chalk up to a stupid, archaic rule that probably should've been banned from baseball about 20-30 years ago. Seriously, how do we not have a DH in both leagues yet? That's a conversation for another day. He returned from injury and posted a 4.77 ERA over the next three seasons, which doesn't exactly fall in line with the Cy Young caliber performances that he was putting up earlier in his career. But weirdly, since the latter part of the 2019 season, Adam Wainwright has returned to form. He was solid down the stretch in 2019, especially in the postseason. Waino had an excellent year in the Covid year last year, and through 25 starts in 2021, Adam Wainwright is having one of his better seasons. The guy keeps getting it done. He's currently 12-7 with a 3.10 ERA. He leads all of baseball in complete games with three, and he's currently on pace for a 200 inning season at the age of 39. 

2021 has been a pretty lousy year for starting pitching. There's a lot of reasons for that. I think this season will go down as a bit of an outlier. Jacob deGrom, baseball's best pitcher, has missed a lot of time with injury. The sticky stuff crack down as well has something to do with that. Now don't get me wrong, there are some elite electric starters that I would pay good money to see every fifth day. Guys like Zack Wheeler and Walker Buehler have been absolute revelations. However, there's something to be said about a guy who is still capable of taking the ball every fifth day and going 6-7 innings a start. At 39, Adam Wainwright has gone seven or more innings in 12 of his 25 starts. By comparison, Robbie Ray, who currently leads the American League in pitchers' Wins Above Replacement and may well be in the driver's seat for an American League Cy Young, has pitched seven or more innings in five of his 24 starts. Ray is 29, exactly a decade younger than Wainwright. And I'm not saying that Adam Wainwright deserves serious Cy Young consideration or anything. His bWAR right now is only at 2.7, but I can't help but respect what he's done. He's one of the last of a dying breed of innings eaters—respect to the old-timer for showing us how it's done.