Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright Ends Season, Career

Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright Ends Season, Career
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright (50) waves to the crowd after being recognized for his upcoming retirement during the fourth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park in San Diego on Sept. 23, 2023. (Ray Acevedo/USA TODAY Sports via Field Level Media)
Field Level Media

St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright, who earned his 200th career win last week, announced Tuesday that his 18-season career is done.

The 42-year-old veteran previously declared that 2023 would be his last season. His Tuesday statement merely ends his tenure days before the Cardinals close out their first losing season since 2007.

“I literally left everything I had out there, like for real,” he said ahead of the Cardinals’ road game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday.

Wainwright earned his 198th win on June 17, then went 0–10 with a 10.72 ERA in his next 11 starts as he pursued the 200-victory milestone.

He beat the host Baltimore Orioles with five innings of two-run ball on Sept. 12, then got No. 200 with seven shutout innings against the visiting Brewers on Sept. 18.

Wainwright, famed for possessing one of the best curveballs in the majors, got his final out by inducing a fly ball from former MVP Josh Donaldson on a curveball.

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” Wainwright said of stepping away. “I prepared for that last game ... thinking I had three more starts. I think what actually happened was I won the last game that I could have won. I can barely advance the ball 60 feet as it is. I’ve been trying to get my arm to a spot where I could try it. And I know a lot of people were rooting for me to be done anyway after I won that game.

“But ... it didn’t feel right to me to just pack it in as soon as I got my number that I was trying to get to just quit. I just didn’t feel like that was the right decision. I felt like that was not the visual that I wanted to send to the players in that clubhouse. I wanted to play until the job was done.”

Wainwright added, “I’ve thought a lot about it the last few days, but I’m in a really good place mentally. No regrets about anything I ever did, no second thoughts of, am I making the right decision on pitching or retiring. I’m at peace with all of it in this spot that I’ve never been.”

A three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, Wainwright won a World Series ring as a rookie reliever for the 2006 Cardinals. He moved to the rotation the following year.

In 478 career appearances (411 starts), Wainwright went 200–128 with a 3.53 ERA and 2,202 strikeouts in 2,668 1/3 innings. In 21 starts this year, he went 5–11 with a 7.40 ERA.

St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said, “He gave it every ounce of what is left in that arm in that shutout for No. 200. To walk off the way he did, at home, end it on a curveball, fans on their feet, the ovation after he came out, all of it—there’s not a better way to go out than the way he just did.”