TCN Blog 2015 Top Story #8: Overcoming Pitching Injuries

The 2015 St. Louis Cardinals lived by their pitching, to the point their team ERA of 2.94 was the lowest in all of Major League Baseball over the last 27 years. The National League average team ERA this past season was almost an entire run higher, at 3.90.

The fact that the Cardinals pitchers were able to accomplish that with their ace able to make only four starts and three other starters plus the defacto sixth starter in Triple-A also having spent time on the disabled list is nothing short of amazing.

And down in the bullpen, the two right-handed veteran set up men missed most of the year, too.

According to mangameslost.com, the Cardinals lost more WAR due to injuries than any other team in Major League Baseball this past season. St. Louis lost an astounding 15.88 WAR via 772 games lost to players on the disabled list in 2015, yet still collected 100 victories.

Leading the way on the impact list was Adam Wainwright, who alone represented over 5+ WAR lost. The ace suffered a ruptured Achilles that required surgery and knocked him out for 142 games. Even in his late September return, Wainwright was able to contribute only as a reliever.

The only two regular St. Louis starters to get through the entire season without at least one DL trip were John Lackey and Michael Wacha.

Jaime Garcia had two stints out, the first 40 games of the season finishing his recovery from shoulder surgery and a spring training setback, and 20 more contests during most of July due to a groin strain.

Carlos Martinez suffered a September shoulder injury. Though he did not miss much time, his absence in the post-season was huge.

Even workhorse Lance Lynn missed 14 games in June due to forearm tightness. That could have been a signal that his post-season Tommy John surgery was on the horizon.

Though Marco Gonzales outpitched Martinez in spring training in the battle for the fifth rotation spot, the lefty was returned to Memphis. There, Gonzales suffered a lingering shoulder injury that essentially wrecked his season.

In Gonzales’ absence, Tim Cooney had burst onto the scene, spending a brief but effective period as the sixth starter before a season-ending bout with appendicitis.

Reliever Jordan Walden looked to be a valuable part of the Shelby Miller trade with Atlanta, but after hard use early in the season, the right hander encountered shoulder problems that may still remain today. He pitched in just 12 games.

Fellow bullpen mate Matt Belisle missed 68 games due to a right shoulder injury suffered in late June. The 35-year-old returned in mid-September.

Though the club failed to advance in the NL Division Series, the 100 regular season wins and sparkling team ERA are quite a testament to all the pitchers on the 2015 Cardinals – especially the minority who remained off the disabled list. They include Lackey, Wacha, Carlos Villanueva, Randy Choate, Kevin Siegrist, Seth Maness and Trevor Rosenthal.

Link to The Cardinal Nation Blog’s top 20 stories of the year countdown

Follow me on Twitter.