Cardinals could lose one of league's best

Adam Wainwright

WainwrightSt. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright suffered a “significant injury” to his throwing elbow in a bullpen session on Monday, according to GM John Mozeliak. Wainwright returned to St. Louis to have his elbow examined by team doctors.

According to our video trackers at Inside Edge, Wainwright threw 1,471 breaking balls (curveballs and sliders) last season. Only three pitchers threw more -- Brett Myers (1,620), Chris Carpenter (1,589) and Dan Haren (1,483).

Highest WAR Among NL Starters
2010 Season

If the Cardinals are to lose Wainwright, they would be without one of the league’s best starters. Wainwright has been on an upward trajectory over the past three seasons, lowering his ERA while steadily increasing his wins above replacement marks in both 2009 and 2010.

In fact, his 6.1 wins above replacement ranked fourth among National League starting pitchers.

Wainwright had the third-best ERA+ in baseball over the past two seasons, trailing only Felix Hernandez and Roy Halladay, last year’s Cy Young Award winners. In the same span, Wainwright has a 2.53 ERA. Only Hernandez has a lower ERA among starting pitchers who have thrown at least 250 innings over the past two years.

Since the beginning of 2009, Wainwright ranks sixth in the majors in innings pitched, and is one of just four pitchers to have thrown more than 400 innings with an ERA under 3.00. The other three -- Hernandez, Halladay and Tim Lincecum -- have won a Cy Young Award in the past two seasons.

National League xWIN Leaders
2010 Season

ESPN’s Stats & Information created a statistic called xWIN that measures how many wins a pitcher’s team should get based on HIS combination of innings pitched and earned runs allowed in each start. It eliminates the adverse effect of having a bad offense on a pitcher's win total.

As you can see in the chart to the right, Wainwright led all National League starters in this statistic, including teammate Chris Carpenter and Cy Young winner Halladay.