Adam Wainwright is in his 13th MLB season, all with the St. Louis Cardinals, which means he’s seen a lot of great teams in his professional career. But the Chicago Cubs (12-8), with their explosive offense, might be the best he’s ever faced.
“They have a great team from top to bottom,” Wainwright said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “They have great pitching, they have a great bullpen, they have a great set of defenders out there, they play great defense, they run the bases really well – they do a lot of things really well.”
So do the Nationals (14-6), who are tied with the Astros (14-6) for the best record in baseball entering play April 26.
“They are going to be very, very tough this year,” Wainwright said of the Nationals. “They have two of the best hitters in the game, period, back-to-back in (Daniel) Murphy and Bryce Harper. And the other guys on that team, we’re forgetting guys like Ryan Zimmerman and (Anthony) Rendon and Trea Turner. Trea Turner just had a cycle and seven RBIs and is supposed to be one of the fastest guys in the game. He plays great defense. So from top to bottom, they’re very tough.
“There’s other teams too that are tough,” Wainwright continued, “but for my money, the two toughest teams I’ve seen so far have been the Nationals and the Cubs. Those good playoff teams, they just look different, they feel different, they play different. That’s what we’ve always done. We got to get back to that.”
The Cardinals (9-11) are off to a sluggish start this season, but they’ve also made the playoffs in 13 of the last 17 seasons. So if you’re a concerned Cardinals fan, well, you probably shouldn’t be.
One player that Cardinals fans should be concerned about, though, is Milwaukee’s Eric Thames. The 30-year-old first baseman is hitting .370 with a .489 OBP, 11 homers and 19 RBIs, this after spending the last several years playing in Korea.
What do we make of this?
“Well, I make (of it) a guy who went somewhere else, learned his swing a little bit better, and learned his plate discipline a little bit better,” Wainwright said. “He’s swinging at a lot fewer out-of-the-zone pitches, and from watching him on tape the first couple of weeks and then pitching against him, he’s a guy that doesn’t miss many mistakes.”
Thames went 0-for-5 against the Cardinals in April 21, including 0-for-3 against Wainwright.
“You say I figured it out,” Wainwright said. “The only thing I figured out was I had to execute very well, or he was going to hit it very hard.”