St. Louis Cardinals: Five Winners from 2017 Spring Training

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Mar 28, 2017; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams (32) celebrates with right fielder Stephen Piscotty (55) after hitting a three run home run against the New York Mets during a spring training game at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 28, 2017; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams (32) celebrates with right fielder Stephen Piscotty (55) after hitting a three run home run against the New York Mets during a spring training game at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mar 8, 2017; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha (52) delivers a pitch during a spring training game against the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 8, 2017; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha (52) delivers a pitch during a spring training game against the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

St. Louis Cardinals winner number three: Michael Wacha.

After losing his St. Louis Cardinals rotation spot near the end of last season, Michael Wacha faced some speculation at the beginning of camp to start 2017 season as a long reliever. But trading Jaime Garcia in the offseason and losing highly-touted prospect Alex Reyes to Tommy John surgery in February opened an opportunity that the 25-year-old has seized ever since.

Wacha collected four victories and was undefeated over seven spring starts, but his mechanical adjustments were even more important to regaining trust in the rotation. His fastball once reached 97 mph this spring, a byproduct to finishing with a team-leading twenty-two strikeouts as opposed to six walks.

Given uncertainty over Lance Lynn’s health and Adam Wainwright’s expected output for the season, a healthy campaign from Wacha becomes even more crucial to the Cardinals’ destiny in 2017. If he can come close to the pitcher he was during his 2015 All-Star campaign two years ago, Wacha could pitch his way into extension talk in the near future.

Who this affects most?

Rotation depth suddenly became a question mark in Spring Training and Wacha was able to answer to an extent, but the Cardinals did experiment with some other aspiring starters who may have to wait their turn for a spot outing.

Luke Weaver is one of these candidates, but he gave up seven runs over five Grapefruit League innings. Trevor Rosenthal, who was increasing workload in an opportunity to become a starter, will start the year on the disabled list, thus eliminating him as competition.

Regular season goal

Having been limited by injuries in two of the past three seasons, being able to make thirty starts and log over 180 innings would be important for Wacha. If these benchmarks are reached, the Texas A&M product could be close for the team lead in wins and strikeouts.

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