Adam Wainwright's ugly loss in the St. Louis Cardinals' home opener Friday (he allowed eight earned runs on two big homers in three innings) is coming close enough to the elbow surgery that cost him all of the 2011 season that the primary concern, following Bryan LaHair's grand slam, was not even the Cardinals losing to the Hated Chicago Cubs—it was whether or not he's actually healthy.
And when you're worrying obsessively over a pitcher's health, your best friend is his velocity. Thanks to the indispensable Brooks Baseball we have his velocity from yesterday's start to compare to his velocity over time, which is just the ticket for terror.
The early results: Not great, but not Mark Mulder-level terrible, either. On Friday Wainwright's sinker averaged 89.3 miles per hour over the 30 times he threw it; since becoming a starter it's clocked more routinely around 91.5.
One game—and just his second start in anger since the September before last—isn't nearly enough to freak out about justifiably. His arm seems likelier to get stronger than weaker over the rest of the year, and anyway he's 30—he was going to lose velocity anyway, at some point, and will probably be able to compensate for a small decline.
Of course, I have no jurisdiction over unjustifiable freakouts, which can go ahead as planned.