The 42-year-old Wainwright picked up career win No. 200 with a vintage gem against the Milwaukee Brewers in what turned out to be a 1-0 victory for St. Louis. His line for the night:
Of Wainwright's 93 pitches, 58 went for strikes. Relying on deception, location, and an array of arm angles rather than velocity -- Wainwright's sinker averaged just 86 mph -- he kept Milwaukee hitters off balance with 23 called strikes on the night. In terms of Game Score, which measures the effectiveness of a starting pitcher in a given game, Wainwright's figure of 70 on Monday is his highest since July 8 of last year. It's also his first scoreless outing since Aug. 18 of last year.
In addition to the benchmark victory, Wainwright also made a bit of franchise history:
The only run of support Wainwright wound up needing came on a fourth-inning home run by his battery-mate Willson Contreras. The blast was Contreras' 20th homer of the season. To cinch it, closer Ryan Helsley notched his first four-out save since May. Wainwright becomes the third pitcher to win 200 or more games in a Cardinals uniform. He joins Hall of Famers Bob Gibson (251) and Jesse Haines (210).
Wainwright's journey to 200 this season has been a difficult and uncertain one. He was injured coming out of spring training and, upon his return, struggled to find command of his signature overhand curve. At the same time, he continued to shed fastball velocity. Wainwright's ERA for the season hovered in the 7.00s and 8.00s for more than two months, and had the Cardinals been contending, he likely would've lost his spot in the rotation. Things as they were, however, they were able to stick with Wainwright. His last time out, he earned win No. 199 after being stuck on 198 for 11 starts. The wait for 200 was much shorter, almost by necessity, given the late hour of the season.
Wainwright has previously announced that he's retiring at the end of the 2023 season. While Cooperstown probably isn't in his future, he will one day have his No. 50 retired by the organization with which he's spent his entire MLB career.