Cardinals Michael Wacha surprisingly enters his seventh season with St. Louis. Seemingly not that long ago that he amazed Cardinals fans and the MLB as a rookie in postseason of 2013. The arm of Cardinals future. Due to circumstances, no one had a crystal ball to see, it was not to be totally.
He's an unassuming and quiet player, partly because he is not high on anyone's radar as one of the 'elite' pitchers in the MLB. But, also, he comes to the mound, does his job without fanfare and then dissolves into the dugout with his teammates. No antics - 'his own way' watching the finish of the game awaiting his fate for a win, loss, or no decision; and, to prepare for his next start.
Even though missing many starts in his career, he has been a solid starter for the Cardinals. With a rare shoulder strain which limited him in 2014, a rare stress reaction in the scapula behind his throwing arm, he only saw 19 starts. It reared it's ugly head again, but not until 2016, but he did have 24 starts before 'being benched'.
In-between, both 2015 (17-7/3.38 ERA) and 2017 (12-9/4.13 ERA), he closed each season with 30 games/30 game starts.
Once again, in 2018, we saw very little of Wacha. However not due to the previous shoulder strain. He sustained a severe left oblique strain in June, with a setback in rehab in September, that kept him from returning the remainder of the season. He had a very solid beginning to last season, 8-2/3.20 ERA/1.233 WHIP in his 15 outings giving hope he would be an essential piece of the rotation with a glimpse of his 2013 performances returned.
Wacha's career total innings pitched has been held to 741 in a total of 136 games/127 game starts.
SPRING TRAINING 2019
I have found no real update and only presuming Wacha will report in on February 13 (if not already at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium) as pitchers and catchers officially 'clock in' for Spring Training in Jupiter FL. I'm presuming his injury of 2018 is completely healed and he is ready to take the mound.
The now 27 year old went through his last 'arbitration eligible' season and agreed upon a 6.350 M/1 Yr. contract for 2019 at the deadline. Yes, his first free agent season in 2020. He's projected, for this upcoming season, at 8-5/3.97 ERA with only 118 IP. Also, with a 1.314 WHIP which is certainly above his career, 1.285 WHIP. Therefore, 'if' projections are correct, we will not see Wacha in a starting role for very long should he earn a spot in the rotation.
In my opinion, this is an odd year season. Therefore, from Wacha's history, he should have another very solid season. Above and beyond was is projected by Baseball Reference? Of course, his health is the key and no one knows in stone what his future holds.
MICHAEL WACHA STRONG
For sure he has the pitch selection throughout his career that has made him a strong arm when healthy. A sinking fastball that usually travels between 92-95 MPH, complemented by a change-up - featuring a deep, fading movement to right-handed hitters with a 10-12 MPH decrease in velocity from his fastball. His arm angle on the two pitches is the same. The arm speed appears virtually identical to the hitter, but a great disguise for the difference in velocity. Wacha's third pitch is an average curveball that travels about 77 MPH. He has improved upon the break and consistency. He does possess a fourth pitch, by far not his strongest suit. A slider that lacks consistent break and darts horizontally similar to the cutter.
Hard to gauge how Michael Wacha will do this coming season. Should the law of average (history) hold true and he can forego any 'hiccups' physically, he will be a very solid piece of the Cardinals rotation in 2019.