Closing Time: Adam Wainwright, home sweet home

Does Adam Wainwright have any star power left? (AP)

In the Home Run Derby world of 2017, we have to be more realistic about what our starting pitchers give us. Almost every arm we roster is going to get hammered at one point or another. An ERA in the range of four actually makes someone worth consideration.

And then there’s Adam Wainwright, who’s been sharp in roughly half of his starts — generally, the home ones. Can we find a way to break through the matrix?

Wainwright’s front-door numbers (5.48 ERA, 1.55 WHIP) are going to push many owners off the case. Even Monday’s win against Miami came with some jagged moments — four scoreless innings, followed by a six-run fifth. Wainwright did strike out eight, and he was buoyed by a 14-run attack. Keep Phamming, Tommy Pham.

Is it a case of simply trusting Wainwright at home? He’s won six of his nine St. Louis starts (nice), with a 3.42 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. The road numbers are a mess: 8.36 ERA, 1.83 WHIP. Then again, you could at least build an argument that Wainwright has simply been lucky at home and unlucky on the road. His xFIP is better on the road. His strand rate drops about 19 percent on the road. He’s allowed a .308 BABIP under the arch, a .413 hit rate out of a suitcase.

I’m going to keep Wainwright in the streaming bucket for a while, take it start by start. His next turn is at home (good), against the Mets (excellent), and against Rafael Montero (tremendous). He’ll be a solid favorite in that assignment, and I’ll come along for the ride.

• Wainwright’s most notable crash-landing came in Cincinnati, the Scooter Gennett four-homer game. A lot of pundits laughed Gennett off at the time, but he’s been on a roll ever since. He had three hits, including a homer, in Monday’s loss at Coors, upping his slash to .311/.357/.591. Gennett qualifies at three Yahoo positions and is up to 13 homers. Useful is as useful does.

Even the New Jersey cognoscenti is taking note:

• About six weeks ago, I had some rather pointed things to say about Aaron Nola. He’s made those words look rather foolish.

Nola was in top form Monday against Pittsburgh, tossing seven bagels and striking out eight. Pivot to video. It’s his third straight win and fourth in six turns. Here’s the run he’s on: 40.1 IP, 31 H, 12 ER, 12 BB, 43 K, 2.68 ERA, 1.07 WHIP. He’s the ninth-best pitcher in baseball over the last month.

If Nola is gong to turn into a star, he needs a better path to getting left-handed hitters out. They’re slashing .268/.353/.398 against him, with 16 walks against 29 strikeouts. But if his health problems are finally out of the way — that had a lot to do with his nightmare second half last year, and slow start this year — the 24-year-old is on a rising trajectory. Hat tip to anyone who stayed the course.

• We’ve given you some Manuel Margot propaganda since he returned from the DL, but there’s still time to jump on the bandwagon. Margot’s locked into the No. 2 slot in San Diego, and on a nifty 10-for-23 binge with a homer and four stolen bases.

Given how little running we see in the majors these days, this is the type of player who can boost fantasy teams in a hurry. Maybe some of the lukewarm press Margot received a week or so ago is holding back the adds; he’s still free to grab in 79 percent of Yahoo.

• Everyone is sick of the Rangers bullpen, but at least one name is out of the way. Keone Kela (shoulder) went on the disabled list Monday, taking him out of the closer mix. Matt Bush has shifted to a setup role, which means our speculations will fall on the electric-but-wild Jose Leclerc, freshly-acquired Jason Grilli, pitch-to-contact Alex Claudio, and whatever barbed wire the Rangers can scare up.

Place your bets, Wooderson. Happy Birthday, America.