JUPITER, Florida (KMOX) – Last week, Adam Wainwright was sitting in his living room and pulled up a video from 2013 of Adam Wainwright showing viewers how to throw a curveball. He immediately grabbed a baseball and asked his wife to stand 10 feet away. After a soft overhand toss to her, he ‘knew right away, it was back.’
His curveball has been documented as one of the best in baseball through his career in the minor and major leagues. In 2009, when he finished 3rd in NL Cy Young voting, his 140 strike outs with the curveball was the best in the majors. Last year, when Wainwright’s ERA ballooned to nearly double his career average, he says his curveball was gone.
Through all of last year’s struggles, the entire 2016-17 offseason and two weeks of Spring Training he didn’t know exactly what had changed since missing most of 2015 due to an Achilles injury. He says the loss of a grip is a common occurrence for major league pitchers.
“Little weird things like that,” Wainwright says. “I mean I’ve been throwing it the same way for 20 years and then all the sudden, I don’t know if it was time off.”
Wainwright’s savor in re-discovering his curveball, was 2013 Adam Wainwright.
He was sitting on the couch last week, tracing his memory for an example of his classic 12-to-6 breaking ball, when he thought back to a 2013 video he did with MLB Tonight analyst Al Leiter. Wainwright went to YouTube and found that video of his younger self talking to the former 19-year MLB pitcher.
In the video he explained to Leiter the exact placements of his fingers, the way he used his thumb on the opposite seam for leverage and the follow through of his right hand down across his mid section.
“I realized my grip was off,” Wainwright says. “And I just needed to twist the ball a little bit more which made the seams fit in my finger a little bit better.”
Here is that video:
It’s for those moments of random selective memory that Wainwright keeps a baseball in his bedroom.
“It makes we want to go get a ball and trace all my fingers on it and all my little grips that I like and I’m comfortable with,” Wainwright says. “And the same thing I’m going through that right now with my cutter.”
His cutter was taken deep twice in the Cardinals 9-4 win over the Atlanta Braves, Thursday. In the first inning, rising star Dansby Swanson and career minor leaguer Adam Walker II hit home runs off of ‘sloppy cutters’ as Wainwright described them.
However, after his two innings of work, Wainwright couldn’t help but grin as he talked about the progression of his other pitches.
“There’s just some life in there, I’m not having to try and force velocity, I just felt like it was coming out real easy today.”
He believes his cutter is still a couple game away.
Next up for the Cardinals is a matchup on Friday against the Washington Nationals at 1:05 p.m.