ST. LOUIS -- With another seven-inning start on Tuesday -- his 20th in 25 outings this season -- Adam Wainwright remains on pace to carry the heaviest workload of his career.
Wainwright leads the Majors with 182 2/3 innings pitched, only 16 fewer than he pitched during the 2012 regular season. The Cardinals can pitch Wainwright as many as nine more times before the season ends if the team sets up its rotation to maximize his availability. If he were to continue his innings-per-start pace, Wainwright would end the regular season just shy of the 250 mark.
He's never hit that in any season, even with postseason outings included. And, of course, if the Cardinals play deep into October, that extra work would push Wainwright's total innings count even higher.
Aware of the potential for Wainwright to approach the 272 1/3 innings thrown by Chris Carpenter two years ago, the Cardinals are monitoring the work. It was part of the rationale behind giving Wainwright extra rest before his start on Tuesday, too.
"Obviously, we are cognizant of his workload, and that's why we pushed him back, so he could catch some rest," said general manager John Mozeliak. "As we watch over the next six weeks, especially when we expand rosters, if we have an opportunity, we'll work some more rest in for him. He feels good. That's not to say that at times he doesn't feel somewhat tired because of what he's doing, but from a physical standpoint, he's strong and he understands the day-to-day rigors."
Neither Mozeliak, nor Wainwright, nor manager Mike Matheny, have attributed the heavy workload to Wainwright's slight dip in effectiveness over the past month. Though Wainwright has finished seven innings in all five of the starts he has made since the All-Star break, he is not dominating in the way he was during the first half of the year.
Before taking a week's rest in mid-July, Wainwright was 12-5 with a 2.45 ERA, with six home runs allowed and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 8.7-to-1. Since then, the team has won just two of Wainwright's five starts. He's served up four home runs in 36 innings and has struck out 32, while walking nine. He is averaging 15.5 pitches per inning during that stretch, compared to 14.1 over the first half.
Speaking specifically of Tuesday's 122-pitch start, Wainwright suggested that the extra rest may have actually contributed to his pitch count spiking early.
"I think early on in that game, I felt like I hadn't pitched in the second half," said Wainwright, who was pitching on a week of rest. "It had been a while since my last start. You hate to make excuses, but it had to have played into my command a little bit early on."
Top prospect Taveras to have season-ending surgery
ST. LOUIS -- Still bothered by a high right ankle sprain that he suffered in May, Cardinals top prospect Oscar Taveras is scheduled to undergo a season-ending surgical procedure next week. General manager John Mozeliak said the recommendation to have Taveras' ankle scoped came from Charlotte (N.C.)-based foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Robert Anderson, this week.
The procedure is not expected to affect Taveras' readiness for next Spring Training, but it does end his chances of being among the Cardinals' callups in September. He finishes the season having played 46 games in his first Triple-A season. Taveras had a .306/.341/.462 slash line, with 12 doubles, five homers and 32 RBIs. He played only 15 games after spraining his ankle on May 12.
"Obviously it's disappointing in the sense he didn't get the at-bats," Mozeliak said. "I still think that when he played, he played well. It's unfortunate, but injuries happen in this game. This one doesn't seem to be to the point where we have to worry about next year."
Taveras, 21, had been rehabbing his ankle in Florida since early July. He started and stopped his rehab work several times, most recently on Monday. After Taveras alerted the organization's medical staff to continued discomfort, they sent him to see Dr. Anderson, who performed ankle surgery on Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter last fall.
The specifics of the procedure will not be known until the scope is done. It could be determined that ligaments need repairing or that cartilage needs to be cleaned out. Taveras' timetable for recovery will be announced after surgery is completed. At that time, too, the Cardinals can determine whether the outfielder would have any chance to participate in winter ball this offseason.
Before being slowed by ankle issues, Taveras, who currently tops MLB.com's prospect list, was projected to be in the Majors before season's end. Even during the recent weeks of his rehab, the Cardinals were still considering him a candidate to join the club when rosters expand next month.
Mozeliak said it was too premature to speculate how this setback could affect Taveras' chances of making the Opening Day roster next season. He also implied that Taveras' shortened season will not have much of an effect on how the Cardinals' proceed this offseason, particularly with regards to Carlos Beltran. Taveras was seen as the natural successor to Beltran in right field, though that was before his season was interrupted with the ankle issue.
Holliday returns to lineup after spraining ankle
ST. LOUIS -- Left fielder Matt Holliday was back on the field Wednesday, a day after needing to be removed due to a mild right ankle sprain.
Holliday, who was unavailable to comment on the injury after the game Tuesday and again on Wednesday afternoon, appeared to injure his ankle while making a move back to first base in the 10th inning of Tuesday's eventual 4-3, 14-inning win over the Pirates. After watching Holliday run to second minutes later, manager Mike Matheny removed him for a pinch-runner.
X-rays on Holliday's ankle came back negative, and general manager John Mozeliak said that Holliday passed all the necessary tests on Wednesday to be cleared to play.
"I think it scared him more than anything else when he felt it not feel quite right," Matheny said. "I think he was then hesitant moving first to second at that point."
Batting in the cleanup spot, Holliday singled in his first at-bat on Tuesday to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. He is hitting .409 since the All-Star break and has reached base safely in all 18 games he's played since coming off the disabled list.
• The Cardinals still anticipate that catcher Yadier Molina (right knee sprain) and outfielder Shane Robinson (right shoulder sprain) will come off the disabled list before the club plays on Thursday. The club will have to make a pair of moves to clear space for both on the 25-man roster. General manager John Mozeliak said on Wednesday that he has not yet decided whether three catchers will be kept on the roster.
• In his first start since returning to Triple-A, Carlos Martinez allowed five hits and three earned runs in Memphis' win on Tuesday. Martinez walked one, struck out three and threw 57 of his 91 pitches for strikes.
• The Cubs announced on Wednesday that they have reworked their rotation for their upcoming weekend series against the Cardinals. Chicago will call Jake Arrieta up from Triple-A to face Jake Westbrook on Friday; Travis Wood will oppose Joe Kelly on Saturday; and Edwin Jackson will go against Adam Wainwright in the series finale.
• Though Tuesday's three-hour, 55-minute win went late into the night because an extra five innings were needed to determine a winner, the sluggish pace of game is hardly a new phenomenon for the Cardinals. Each of the team's last 13 games has lasted at least three hours, and during that stretch, the Cardinals have had an average game time of three hours, 24 minutes.
It may not be a coincidence, either, that this period of lengthy games started when the Cardinals lost Molina. Neither Rob Johnson nor Tony Cruz have the same level of familiarity with the pitching staff, which could be one reason why the pace has slowed.
• Matt Carpenter has put away his razor ... for now, he says. It's not yet time for playoff beards, but superstition has Carpenter sticking with the facial hair as the Cardinals try to get back on track and gain on the Pirates' division lead.
"We were just going through a rough stretch, then I grew it out and we started winning a few games," Carpenter said on Wednesday. "So it's going to stay for a while."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.