After another troubling start, another loss and another early shower, Adam Wainwright asked the friendly media for advice.

“I don’t know what to tell y’all,” Wainwright said after the Pirates picked on the Cardinals again, winning 6–3 Tuesday evening. “I don’t know what to tell our fan base. What do I tell them? What do I say? What can I say?”

I don’t think Wainwright needs to say much.

We can see what’s going on. We can look at the numbers. Or we can choose to look away. Wainwright doesn’t have the worst ERA (8.61) by a big-league starting pitcher in 2023 because of bad ball-strike umpiring or bad breaks. There are no excuses or reasons to pretend this isn’t happening.

Waino is broken, and that’s all there is to it. He’ll be 42 years old on Aug. 30 and his stuff hasn’t aged well. But he’ll go on and absorb these relentless flurries of hits and runs until the season expires – and he retires.

There is no endless summer. There’s a long list of Hall of Fame pitchers who stayed too long, up there on the hill, standing in the shadow of late-career eclipses.

In search for perspective, I looked at a large sampling of National Baseball Hall of Fame pitchers to get a sense of how much their greatness faded in the final seasons. Here are the names and their earned-run average in the farewell season.

* Walter Johnson, 5.10
* Bob Gibson, 5.04
* Pedro Martinez, 5.61

* Greg Maddux, 5.07 in his final seven starts.
* Steve Carlton, 5.72 over his final three years.
* Kid Nichols, 9.82

* Randy Johnson, 4.88
* Bert Blyleven, 5.00 over his final two years.
* Robin Roberts, 6.14

* Bob Feller. .497
* Nolan Ryan, 5.21 in his final nine starts.
* Roy Halladay, 6.82

* Carl Hubbell, 4.91
* Burleigh Grimes, 6.43
* Phil Niekro, 6.10

* Tom Glavine, 5.54
* John Smoltz, 6.35
* Jim Palmer, 9.17

* Felix Hernandez, 6.40 (not yet in the Hall).
* Waite Hoyt, 4.96
* Dizzy Dean, 5.40

* Jack Morris, 5.91
* Jack Chesboro, 6.14
* Catfish Hunter, 5.31

* Rube Marquard, 5.75
* Lefty Gomez, 5.79
* Herb Pennock, 5.54

As you can see, the final season can be a dud and a downer.

The Waino Watch is exhausting.

It isn’t fun — especially for the second-best starting pitcher in St. Louis Cardinals franchise history.

Wainwright earned career victory No. 198 with a road win over the Mets on June 17. In the ensuing weeks he’s endured nine failed opportunities to put triumph No. 199 on his MLB registry.

In his latest chase, Wainwright blanked the Pirates for three innings, allowed a single run in the fourth … only to be felled by a five-run fifth inning. For all of the usual babbling about umpire atrocities and “soft contact,” Pirates hitters had a 55.6% hard-hit rate and an average exit velocity of 93.6 mph against Waino on Tuesday. And Wainwright had a chance to limit the damage and work finagle his way out of a jam in the fateful fifth. But he couldn’t. And it’s been a frequent occurrence this season.

When Wainwright faces a hitter with runners in scoring position this season — 104 batters — they’ve hit .424 with a .466 OBP and .717 slug.

But we can’t tell the truth right? Hey, he pitched really well!

Over Wainwright’s last nine lunges for No. 199, Wainwright has a 12.56 ERA. Feral opponents have attacked him for a .405 batting average, .463 onbase percentage and a .690 slugging percentage. In 33 and ⅔ innings during this sequence of wallopings, opponents have teed off on Waino for 15 doubles and 10 homers in 33 and ⅔ innings.

In his epic, record-setting 1968 season, the great Bob Gibson was grazed for a mere 38 earned runs in 304 and ⅔ innings.

Wainwright has been smashed for 40 earned runs in his last 33 and ⅔ innings.

To this stage of the season opponents have put up a 1.013 OPS against Wainwright, and it would be the highest OPS yield in a season by a Cardinal starting pitcher that’s thrown a minimum 75 innings. And no St. Louis starter (75+ innings) has been strafed for a batting average as high as .360 in a season; that’s what opponents have done to Wainwright this year. But let’s talk some more about the umpires, the hard luck, the weak contact. Sure. That explains everything. Wainwright’s humongous ERA exists only in the minds of evil people.

At this point, does it really matter? Yes, the Cardinals are 6-16 in Waino’s 22 starts since late last season. But the STL’s 2023 season is incinerated. The Cards are running out of starting pitchers, so Waino isn’t in the way. Oddly enough he’s providing a necessary service. He will continue to make his starts, try his best to avoid more punishment, and persevere in the pursuit of 200 career wins.

This has been tough to watch. It leaves you downhearted. When Wainwright walks off the mound in defeat, the only thing missing is a sad country-music song playing in the background. Maybe some Hank (“I’m So Lonely I Could Cry.”) Or John Prine’s “Summer’s End.” Cue up “The Grand Tour” by George Jones, or reach back for “If I Could Only Fly” by Blaze Foley.

The hope – as always – is that Wainwright can come up with at least two more good starts that are backed by barrages of runs by the St. Louis hitters.

No. 200 would be Waino’s coda as he leaves the stage.

And then he can complete his 18th and final season of major-league pitching on a positive note, exhale, and smile. Wainwright doesn’t need the 200 wins for validation. He doesn’t need 200 for Cardinals fans to love him as much as they do, and always will. But he could use the joy and the laughter that comes with the milestone. And then go ahead and load up a happy country-music song: “Good Time,” by Alan Jackson.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie hosts an opinionated sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. on Friday. You can stream it live or access the show podcast on or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

For weekly Cards talk, listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast with Will Leitch and Miklasz via or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Fielding Bible and Baseball Prospectus unless otherwise noted.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.