To become the best Cardinals pitcher to wear uniform No. 40, Shelby Miller will need to surpass the standard established by Andy Benes.
Andy Benes earned 52 wins in the five years (1996-97 and 2000-02) he wore No. 40 during two stints with the Cardinals. No other St. Louis pitcher won more while wearing No. 40.
Alan Benes, Andy’s younger brother, wore No. 40 in honor of his brother in 1995 when he was 1-2 in three games in his first year in the major leagues. After the Cardinals signed Andy Benes to a free-agent contract in December 1995, Alan Benes switched to No. 41.
Miller, a 2009 first-round draft choice who made his big-league debut with the Cardinals in September 2012, is the second St. Louis pitcher to wear No. 40 and appear in a regular-season game this year. Reliever Brian Fuentes was issued No. 40 after he signed a free-agent deal with St. Louis in July. Fuentes appeared in six games for the Cardinals before leaving the club for personal reasons.
(Reliever Scott Linebrink, who made the Cardinals’ Opening Day 25-man roster, wore No. 40 in spring training. Because of an injury, he never appeared in a regular-season game for St. Louis and was released.)
Pitchers primarily have worn No. 40 for the Cardinals. Andy Benes achieved 18 wins in 1996, the first St. Louis season he wore No. 40. That is the single-season wins standard for any No. 40 for the Cardinals.
Benes lost seven of his first eight decisions that year, then won 17 of his last 20. According to The Sporting News, the turnaround occurred when pitching coach Dave Duncan and catcher Tom Pagnozzi convinced Benes to pitch inside and use breaking pitches more frequently. The working relationship between Benes and Pagnozzi strengthened as the season progressed.
“We’ve been on the same page and seeing the same things with hitters,” Benes said to The Sporting News. “That’s what excites me.”
Besides Andy Benes, the pitchers who had the most Cardinals success while wearing No. 40 were:
_ Rick Wise. Best-known as the player acquired from the Phillies for ace Steve Carlton, Wise achieved 32 wins in two seasons (1972-73) wearing No. 40 with the Cardinals. He had 20 complete games in 1972 and five shutouts in 1973, the year he was the starting and winning pitcher for the National League in the All-Star Game at Kansas City.
_ Tracy Stallard. In two seasons (1965-66) wearing No. 40 with St. Louis, Stallard had 12 wins, including a three-hit, eight-strikeout shutout of the Cubs on Sept. 1, 1965.
_ Pete Vuckovich. In 1978-79, his first two seasons with the Cardinals, Vuckovich wore No. 46. In 1980, he switched to No. 40 (the number he wore as a rookie with the 1975 White Sox) and won 12 for St. Louis, including a complete-game shutout of the Pirates on Opening Day.
_ Doug Bair. The reliever had two stints with St. Louis (1981-83 and 1985) and wore No. 40 all four years. Bair had eight wins and 10 saves as a Cardinal. He appeared in three games of the 1982 World Series and pitched two scoreless innings in the Cardinals’ 5-4 Game 2 victory over the Brewers.
_ Dan Quisenberry. He wore No. 40 in two seasons (1988-89) with the Cardinals and had five wins and six saves in that stretch. The saves were the last of his big-league total of 244.
_ Kiko Calero. He broke into the big leagues with the Cardinals in 2003 and also pitched for them in ’04. Wearing No. 40, he had four wins and three saves.
_ Troy Percival. He wore No. 40 in all 14 of his big-league seasons, including his lone NL year, 2007, with the Cardinals. Percival was 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 34 games for St. Louis.
Other notable pitchers to wear No. 40 for the Cardinals: Ted Abernathy (1970), Sonny Seibert (1974. He later switched to No. 42 that year), Rick Sutcliffe (1994) and P.J. Walters (2010-11).