St. Louis Cardinals: Which Starting Pitcher Is Most Important?

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 10: Starter Carlos Martinez
ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 10: Starter Carlos Martinez /
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SAN DIEGO, CA – SEPTEMBER 5: Michael Wacha
SAN DIEGO, CA – SEPTEMBER 5: Michael Wacha /

Will the real Michael Wacha spell the solution to the St. Louis Cardinals’ success?

After a meteoric start to his big league career with the St. Louis Cardinals, Michael Wacha’s performance dipped as the league learned to lay off his changeups and attack his 4-seamer.

The emergence of a stress fracture issue in 2014 exacerbated things, and ever since fans have wondered if Wacha would ever sniff the heights he reached in 2013, or if he could be relied upon to pitch the number of quality innings a starter’s workload requires.

The biggest alarm bells sounded in 2016, when shoulder inflammation returned and Wacha limped to a 5.09 ERA (although advanced statistics show he didn’t pitch as badly as that old school number might indicate).

However, Michael seemed to alleviate everyone’s concerns with a bounce-back 2017 that saw him making 30 starts, striking out batters at his best rate since that rookie campaign, and spinning an improved curveball.

Why Wacha is the most important starting pitcher

If Michael can show that his shoulder injury woes are behind him, that his curveball is less of a “get-me-over” pitch and more of an “out” pitch, and that he — like Martinez — can take the ball every 5th day with a more profound confidence than ever before, Wacha could be the other half of that 1-2 punch that every contending team needs.

This is what fans thought they were getting in 2013, and a return that’s close to that form would be huge for this staff.

Mostly, an improvement from Wacha would take some pressure off Martinez to be “the guy” every time the team needs a big win.