St. Louis Cardinals have monitored starter Michael Wacha closely since he sustained injury, a rare stress reaction in his scapula, in 2014. With another brief IL stint in 2016 due to the same situation.
Seasons followed and Cardinals still used "precautionary" measures where Wacha was concerned - measuring stick: pitch count.
In 2019, Wacha was on the 10-Day IL due to tendinitis in his knee. He has been in the rotation to the bullpen a couple of rounds this season to rest him, but still affording him reps without being sent to Memphis Triple-A for additional work.
In August this season, his first four starts, he only saw one outing through the fifth inning. His last outing, August 31 night game of a split doubleheader, against the Cincinnati Reds. It was his first game since June 28 to go deep into a game. He pitched seven innings, only giving up three hits for two home runs/ two earned runs, issued two walks and fanned seven. He out dueled Reds strong arm, Sonny Gray in the Cardinals 3-2 win, but received a no-decision for his work which included 95 pitches in the interim.
His outing August 25, he only pitched 4.2 innings with 113 pitches thrown. So in view of what I'm sure is considered a much improved performance August 31, pitch count has become less of a concern?
WACHA TO THE HILL ON THREE DAYS REST
Now, after only three days rest, Wacha will make the start Wednesday night facing Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner instead of Dakota Hudson, previously scheduled. Hudson will face Giants rookie Logan Webb on Thursday, a noon game.
And, per Cardinals manager Mike Shildt, 'he will be watched closely' should he begin to falter. And, I'm sure the bullpen has been put on alert to 'be ready'.
Wacha, who was one of the five rotation pieces out of Spring training, definitely has not had the best of seasons. He is looking at his stand tonight as just another regular start. Not overthinking the situation.
He is 2-1/4.66 ERA at home, 10 games played, 8 starts. However, during the day, Wacha holds a 6.46 ERA, with a 4.31 ERA at night.
My thoughts are, this was very possibly the deciding factor for Shildt to make the switch. Cardinals have a better chance for the win with a 'nighttime' Wacha vs a 'daytime' Wacha? Even with back-to-back starts that were pitch heavy. In my opinion, a manager's bottomline decisions have been made before in such situations with that factor in mind.
Facing the Giants in the past, Wacha has given up a .304 BA in a minimal 46 at-bat total.
Bumgarner (9-8/3.62 ERA) is a very solid pitcher and the last he faced the Cardinals July 6 was at home. He only saw two innings. Not because of runs given up, but due to a line drive by Jose Martinez to his pitching arm. Even though, in his shortened stand, he had already given up one earned run off four hits.
On the road, he is 3-6/4.68 ERA in his 13 games starts. With opposing batters hitting a .272 BA facing him. The last he pitched at Busch Stadium was September 21, 2018. He went 6 IP/3 ER/8 Hits for a no-decision in the Cardinals 5-3 win. Past history, the Cardinals have punched out a .318 BA facing him - 192 at-bats.
Therefore, should be an interesting match-up between the two. And the Cardinals would like nothing better, with their strong defense behind him, than to see Wacha go at least five innings and succeed with a win. Offense on a mission to have his back.
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