St. Louis Cardinals: Michael Wacha needs to develop his Cutter
Michael Wacha allowed two runs on eight hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings earlier today for the St. Louis Cardinals. All of the damage against him was done on a low-90’s four-seam fastball.
St. Louis Cardinals starter Michael Wacha turned in what was probably his best start of the spring earlier this afternoon.
Dueling with Noah Syndergaard and the defending National League Champion New York Mets, Wacha allowed two runs (one earned) over 4 2/3 while striking out two.
Going into the game, opponents were hitting .405 against Wacha, and that trend continued against the Mets in Port St. Lucie.
Eight of the 21 hitters that Wacha faced recorded a base hit on the afternoon, good for a .381 average. The Mets record hits in each of the five innings that Wacha was out there, but only managed to score single runs in the second and fifth innings.
Wacha was good with the secondary pitches, throwing a fair amount of change ups while flipping in the occasional mid-70’s curveball.
Again, the theme for Wacha was the struggle to locate the fastball, and how opponents are squaring it up with high levels of success.
Sitting between 90-93 for most of the afternoon, Wacha allowed all eight of his hits on fastballs. Mets hitters had that thing squared up all afternoon, and Wacha was pretty fortunate to only allow the two runs.
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Wacha’s fastball doesn’t have a whole lot of movement, and unless he’s consistently in the mid-90’s, he isn’t overpowering anybody.
He has to spot that thing on a dime to be successful. Everything he does on the mound works off of how he locates his fastball.
He was better in that department than he’s been all spring today, but he still isn’t where he needs to be.
According to my very unofficial count, 58 of the 84 pitches that Wacha threw this afternoon were fastballs.
I’m sure that a big part of that is Wacha looking to lock in his command with the pitch.
But, moving into April, that is not going to be a formula for success. Unless he gets that fastball back up into the mid and upper 90’s, big league hitters are going to feast on that thing.
He threw some variation of a cutter just once, in the first inning.
It had nice, slider-like movement while still being a 90-mph pitch. I think that he needs to develop that thing and work it into his repertoire ASAP.
Whether he held off from throwing the cutter due to lack of comfort with the pitch or if it is a measure to keep opponents from getting a good scouting report on it ahead of April, developing a fastball with some sort of movement is going to be vital.
I still think that Michael Wacha is going to be a very good pitcher in St. Louis for the foreseeable future. It’s simply time for the 24-year-old to adapt.
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The cutter has been something that Wacha has just “toyed with” in the past. It’s time to get serious about that pitch. Because if the fastball isn’t sitting at 96-97, it isn’t good enough.