St. Louis Cardinals: Michael Wacha and the month of June

SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 28: Michael Wacha #52 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park June 28, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 28: Michael Wacha #52 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park June 28, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /
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The St. Louis Cardinals have one pitcher that has had an underrated month of June and after a shaky May, he deserves some recognition.

The St. Louis Cardinals did not have a good June, they may be where they are in the standings but it’s clear they shouldn’t be there. One of the positives of June has been the pitching staff though.

Coming into the month, the rotation was a big sore spot for the team. Michael Wacha had been removed from the rotation and the team needed more from the group. It seems that the move to the bullpen lit a fire under Michael Wacha’s butt.

Since his return to the rotation, he has been amazing and nobody seems to be talking about it.

It has only been four starts, but check out the numbers over his last 28 days.

That does include a bad 1.2 innings of relief, outside of that, he has been fantastic except for one start against the Mets.

In that start, he allowed five runs over 4.0 innings of work and the Cardinals lost the game, but outside that he has thrown 6.0 innings twice and 7.0 once. The starts were admittedly against Miami, the Angels, and the Padres but still, progress is progress for a guy who had been removed from the rotation.

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The interesting thing about this month for Wacha though is that he hasn’t been getting many outs by the strikeout. In each of his four starts, he has averaged just 3.5 strikeouts. If you expand that out to nine innings, that’s well below what his career norms have been.

The way he has done it was by getting a lot more groundballs and soft contact. In May, his groundball rate was just 38% and his soft contact rate was just 7.8%. Of course he got taken out of the rotation! In June, his groundball rate was 53.9% and soft contact jumped up to 16.9%.

The interesting thing is that he didn’t start using one pitch more than another or anything like that, he just started to locate much better and throw way fewer pitches down the middle and hit his corners. Who woulda thought? Wacha’s heat map for May can be found here, while June is here, courtesy of Fangraphs.

Will the truth be realized now?. dark. Next

Michael Wacha is a big part of this rotation and hopefully, he can keep up his hot streak for the rest of the season. As a guy with a lot of injury history, health is the most important thing to watch for in my opinion, but I’m glad to see the impending free agent doing well again.

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