St. Louis Cardinals: The Michael Wacha experiment gets another try

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 05: Michael Wacha #52 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at Dodger Stadium on August 05, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 05: Michael Wacha #52 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at Dodger Stadium on August 05, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

It seems as though the St. Louis Cardinals are nearing insanity as they are trying the same 5th starter to see if it gets different results. Let’s see…

It has been a bit of a sad story to see what the career of Michael Wacha has become after the promise he showed all the way back in 2013 in the playoffs pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals.

The primary reason that can be referenced as to why Wacha hasn’t turned into the 1-2 starter that the organization thought he was going to be is the injury bug. Plain and simple. Whether it was an oblique strain last year, the knee tendonitis he dealt with this season or the nagging stress reaction in his scapula that kept him out much of 2014 and then came back in 2016.

Wacha just can’t seem to be healthy for years on end. When he has stayed healthy (at least before this year) he has shown flashes of the potential he once had and with the exception of this year and 2016, he’s always had an ERA around three.

Unfortunately for Wacha, this year, the season before he hits free agency, he hasn’t been good even when he has been healthy. His 5.54 ERA over 20 appearances (15 starts) this year is easily his worse showing yet. He still throws hard, he just can’t find the strike zone and is giving up way too many hits.

His BABIP is way up this year from where it was last year, but when compared to 2016 and 2017 before, 2018’s bounce-back performance looks like an outlier.

On May 24th, Wacha was officially pulled from the rotation after putting up a 5.59 ERA over his first five starts. Genesis Cabrera unsuccessfully replaced him in the rotation and just 17 short days later, he was reinstated after two outings in the bullpen where he pitched a combined 3.1 innings and gave up six earned runs. He seemed just SO COMPLETELY FIXED and worthy of a

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rotation return.

In his second go, Wacha made it another five starts before he was pulled after posting a better-but-not-good 4.10 ERA. This time, Daniel Ponce de Leon got a chance in the rotation. After his attempts proved unsuccessful, the team has now recommitted to Wacha when they didn’t make an addition at the Deadline.

In his first start back, he got destroyed for six runs against the Dodgers over just 3.2 innings. GREAT FIFTH STARTER YOU’VE GOT THERE MO. Michael Wacha might be injured. MLB players are prideful guys and I could see him being injured somewhere, but for now, his performance isn’t good enough for the MLB.

Due to the schedule, the team mercifully skipped Wacha’s turn in the rotation amid rumblings that the team would potentially start an opener and just throw Wacha in the game somewhere the next time the team needed a fifth starter. That day is Thursday against the Reds, and the official starter is Michael Wacha.

Personally, I like the idea of an opener but not for the right reasons. I like the idea because I like Ryan Helsley (I think he should be stretched out into a pseudo-fifth starter), but more so because it is not being insane. The team is literally trying the same player in the same role, for now, the third time this season and expecting him to yield different results. It’s crazy.

Wacha has proven that he isn’t a good starter and while the team has tried other options that failed, it doesn’t mean you just come back to Wacha because he’s the easiest choice…

I hope for the best for Wacha on Thursday, the rest of the season, and in free agency, but I don’t want him in a game as anything but a long reliever anymore. He is not good and this is yet another bullet point on the list of things that have been mind-boggling about how this team has been managed this year.

It has been proven that there are no better starting pitching options on this roster right now. The answer then is to get creative with something like an opener, not running the same guy out there.

To be fair to Shildt, he has been reported as saying he would be very interested in using and opener like Helsley, and in the same week, John Mozeliak said the exact opposite. The proof of who’s choice this is might very well be in the way things are shaking out.

Next. Team shuffles players and coaches. dark

No matter who this decision is coming from, the Michael Wacha experiment, now being run a third time, is unlikely to yield different results. I hope it does, but I don’t expect Wacha to make it out of the fifth inning with fewer than three runs allowed on Thursday night in Cincinnati.