Adam Wainwright, ace of the St. Louis Cardinals, left Saturday’s game after running out a pop fly in the fifth inning. He limped off the field with the help of manager Mike Matheny and a member of the training staff. Wainwright had been authoring a gem for the Cardinals, pitching four shutout innings and allowing only three hits.

Wainwright was seen in a walking boot after the game. “It’s something in the back of my ankle,” he said, “so we’ll see what it is Monday. Everything right now is just all speculation.”

Wainwright will have an MRI and be re-evaluated when the Cardinals return to St. Louis following the completion of their road trip after Sunday’s game. St. Louis GM John Mozeliak confirmed, though, that the information the medical staff had passed along pointed to an Achilles injury, which could mean the season for Wainwright.

“Whether it’s strained or torn … I don’t think it’s good news,” said Mozeliak. “All those rumors floating around seem to have some validity to them.”

Ken Rosenthal also tweeted, “Expectation is that #STLCards’ Wainwright is done for the season with Achilles injury. Has not yet undergone MRI.” Earlier Sunday, Wainwright was officially put on the 15-day disabled list, and pitcher Cody Stanley was recalled.

Obviously the loss of the staff ace for any amount of time, let alone the whole season, is a huge loss for the Cardinals, but the team may be well-equipped to handle the loss. The Cardinals have three pitchers, and potentially a fourth, all under 30 who have been excellent in their starts and have the potential to shoulder the loss of Wainwright. Lance Lynn (27), Michael Wacha (23), and Carlos Martinez (23), have all contributed to the MLB-best ERA that the Cardinals carry, with ERAs of 1.56, 1.33, and 1.35 respectively. There’s also 23-year old Marco Gonzales waiting at Triple-A Memphis, although he was put on the minor league 7-day disabled list on Wednesday so the Cardinals may have to wait a few more days for his 2015 debut. Even so, the Cardinals are well-off enough that they may be able to lessen the blow of the loss of Wainwright. The Cardinals certainly lost a big piece to their puzzle Saturday, but they have all the pieces to withstand this blow. That being said, the door to the NL Central crown may have just widened for the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Important to remember is that the Cardinals also won the World Series in 2011 without Wainwright. Granted, they had Chris Carpenter, who went 4-0 in the postseason. But the supporting staff was not nearly as good, with the other starters that year being Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, Kyle Lohse, and Edwin Jackson. The loss of Wainwright is big, but the Cardinals aren’t horribly crippled.

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