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Adam Wainwright to start NL Wild Card game for Cardinals

Veteran will likely face Dodgers or Giants in WC game for St. Louis.

Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers in the first inning at Busch Stadium on September 28, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Adam Wainwright is having a turn-back-the-clock season for the St. Louis Cardinals. He has a 3.05 ERA and a 127 ERA+ through 206.1 innings; all three numbers are his best in a 162-game season since when he was a top-three finisher for the NL Cy Young in 2014.

For the 16-year veteran, this is 40.

So, to the surprise of no one, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt announced Thursday that Wainwright will start next week’s NL Wild Card Game.

Beyond being the Cardinals’ clear ace this season, Wainwright is a proven commodity in the postseason. He has 109 innings under his belt and has pitched to a 2.89 ERA. The righty stamped his place in Cardinals postseason history as a rookie in 2006, when he saved the clinching game of the NLCS and the World Series. In 2013, he posted a 2.57 ERA and a 1.73 FIP through 35 innings as the Cards were crowned champs again.

Then, at the age of 38 in 2019, Wainwright gave up only three earned runs through 16.2 postseason frames.

The NL Wild Card Game, which is scheduled to begin at 8:10 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, could be a battle between two of MLB’s most accomplished veteran starters. If the season ended today, the Cardinals would be the road team against the Los Angeles Dodgers. That could provide us with a matchup of Wainwright versus three-time Cy Young winner. Max Scherzer. Get your popcorn ready.