Wainwright is one of the leading pitchers in the major leagues and suffered the injury while batting in Saturday’s win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
The right-hander entered the season with the lowest ERA (3.01) among all active pitchers with at least 1,500 innings pitched and had been a top three finisher in the National League Cy Young Award vote in four out of the last six years.
He is??likely to undergo surgery on Thursday, and the club’s general manager John Mozeliak estimated that he would be back in nine-to-12 months after a lengthy rehabilitation process.
“Unfortunate news, but not unexpected after what we saw on Saturday night,” Mozeliak told the Cardinals website.
“This is a fairly common injury that happens to people. But the most important part of these types of injuries is what happens after surgery. Everybody I’ve talked to from the medical world has just said to be patient, don’t try to push it and allow it to have the proper time to heal.
“He’s down. He’s a very honourable player, feels his job is to play under his contract and he wishes he could do that. He’s down right now, and understandably. But I also feel like his presence on this club will be felt all year. He’ll be around, and we wish him a speedy recovery.”
Manager Mike Matheny says it is a chance for someone to step up into their NL-leading rotation, which boasted a superb 1.97 ERA after 16 games.
Tim Cooney or Marco Gonzales could make the move up from Triple-A Memphis while Tyler Lyons made 12 starts for the Cardinals last season but has struggled in the minors so far in 2015.