St. Louis Cardinals: Possible roster moves and lineup changes
By Shane Sturtz
Move Michael Wacha to the bullpen
This may be the roster move I prefer the most out of the suggestions I have stated. I am a big believer in moving Wacha to the bullpen, who is a classic two-pitch pitcher. Yes, after the 2013 season, he added a curve-ball, and in the 2014 he featured a cutter. Nonetheless, Wacha has mostly been a fastball, change-up pitcher, for good reason.
Using Fangraphs’ Pitch Value metric, which measures how successful a pitch is with the average being zero. Wacha has only two above average pitches, a fastball and a change-up, which is the least bit surprising.
- wFB: 14.3
- wCH: 5.3
- wCB: -0.5
- wCT (cutter): -4.5
On top of Wacha only having two effective pitches (which relief pitchers can get away with), he has been tremendously inconsistent in 2017. Still only 25-years-old, Wacha carries a 5-3 record with a 4.16 ERA on the season. In his last two starts (12 IP), Wacha has only surrendered one earned run while striking out 14. That’s the good Michael Wacha, but we’ve also seen him on the opposite end of things.
Five times this season he has failed to reach the 5th inning. Command has somewhat been an issue compiling a 3.3 BB/9, which is career high. However, it has more to do with lacking the repertoire of pitches needed to be a successful Major League starting pitcher. First time through hitters are hitting .176 against Wacha. By the second and third times through, hitters are hitting .336 and .355, respectively.
Inning by inning hitters can pick away at Wacha and uncover his game plan. He can’t get out of jams with a sweeping slider or a baffling curve. Instead he forces outs with his fastball and change-up. That is a tall task especially if hitters know those are his go-to pitches.
All signs point to Wacha being a more than effective reliever. His high-90s fastball and supreme change-up could easily improve the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen.
Trevor Cahill did it with the Chicago Cubs in 2015. Most recently Archie Bradley shifted to the bullpen for the Arizona Diamondbacks this season, and has thrived.
The Diamondbacks have had chances to move Bradley back to the starting rotation due to injuries, but they have elected to keep him in the ‘pen.
It’s up to Wacha to signal that he is okay with the transition. He could become a bridge guy like Andrew Miller. He may not be as dominant, but offers the same idea: A guy who can throw two innings to get to the ninth inning.
By moving Wacha to the bullpen, it would allow Luke Weaver to slot into the rotation and not stunt his growth. Another possible way to get Weaver into the rotation would be to trade Lance Lynn.