The selection of Adam Wainwright to start Game 1 shouldn’t surprise anyone. Wainwright has a good fastball, a nasty curve and a postseason pedigree that few can compete with. The filthy stuff and great command are what make Wainwright a great pitcher, but it’s his knack for delivering in big games that makes him great in the postseason.
"What I've found throughout my playoff career so far is that I respond really well when the adrenaline really kicks in. I love that," Wainwright said via Scott Miller, Senior Baseball Columnist, CBSSports.com. "The crowd gets louder. I get more fired up.”
Wainwright will certainly get a loud crowd tonight in Fenway Park, where he’ll use a mix of pitches to quiet the Red Sox's bats. Last year Wainwright’s mixture stuff wasn’t quite back to form after recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The same surgery that kept him out of the Cardinals’ 2011 World Series Championship.
The hangover effect was a mediocre 2012 regular season and an inconsistent 2012 postseason. “I had terrible stuff last year. I was trying to find a way to make it work.” Wainwright said according to Daniel Solzman of Redbirdrants.com. “No fastball. The fastball wasn’t fast, the change‑up wasn’t changing, the slider wasn’t sliding...”
“And this year I felt strong from the get‑go.” Wainwright continued.
Wainwright felt strong from the start and he’s remained strong all season. The stat that really jumps out for Wainwright is his 6.26 K/BB, which is good for second-best in the league. That stat demonstrates Wainwright’s ability to limit base runners and come up with big strikeouts. Both will be key in defeating the Red Sox.
Wainwright’s K/BB this postseason? That’d be 20.
The Red Sox have had limited exposure to Wainwright as a team, but some individuals have seen the Cardinals’ ace during stints in the National League.
Shane Victorino has the best numbers against Wainwright, which is a .227 batting average with only one home run in 23 appearances. Other Red Sox who’ve had the pleasure of facing Wainwright: Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, David Ross and Mike Carp are a combined 6 for 43 via David Sabino, Boston.com.
Granted, the Red Sox don’t rely heavily on those names for offense. Still, depending on who starts those players will likely make up at least one-third of the Red Sox offense.
The combination of Wainwright’s big-game production, swing-and-miss stuff, affinity for October and the Red Sox cold bats will play out nicely for the Cardinals. Everything seems to add up for Wainwright to have another lengthy dominant October performance.