Adam Wainwright returns from COVID-IL

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ST LOUIS, MO – JULY 25: Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals delivers a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first inning at Busch Stadium on July 25, 2020 in St Louis, Missouri. The 2020 season had been postponed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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When the St. Louis Cardinals placed Adam Wainwright on the COVID-19 injured list, they did not expect him to be out long. If anything, the organization thought he would return by March 3 to start a four-game series against the New York Mets.

That’s exactly what happened.

Wainwright, 39, was activated off the injured list and will start Monday’s game. Outfielder Austin Dean was optioned to Triple-A Memphis, the team announced.

Getting Wainwright back, and having him delayed from his previous scheduled start by only one day, is an ideal outcome for the Cardinals. They are in the middle of a 17-game in 17 days stretch and can use all the pitching depth that they can have, even after strong recent starts from Carlos Martinez and Jack Flaherty, among others.

Wainwright should provide length and dependability in the rotation. While he has a 4.08 ERA this season, he has allowed only three runs and 11 hits in his last two starts (16 innings) against the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies. The Cardinals are optimistic that is a sign of things to come and while he may not be the same pitcher who won 19 games in 2009 and 2013, they believe he can be a highly effective option in the rotation.

Hence why the Cardinals signed him to a one-year deal to pitch atop the rotation with Flaherty. He should make an immediate impact for the team, not just with the start against the Mets, but further lessening the load on the bullpen that manager Mike Shildt said started the season on an “unsustainable pace.”

His impact should especially be felt come October, when the Cardinals are likely to square off against the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. For now, however, the Cardinals are happy to have Wainwright back — and they should see instant results once he takes the mound Monday night at Busch Stadium.

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