St. Louis Cardinals: Wacha’s biggest start of the year
After a 19-inning game on Tuesday night, Michael Wacha’s start on Wednesday could be his biggest of the year for the St. Louis Cardinals.
To be fair, the title of this article is definitely arguable. For Michael Wacha, his start in a 2:40 CT game against the eliminated Arizona Diamondbacks may not actually be his biggest start of the year for the St. Louis Cardinals. That may have come last Friday when Wacha delivered 4.0 innings of one-run ball against the still-dangerous Cubs.
But 4.0 innings of one-run ball on Wednesday is not going to cut it for Michael Wacha. The team needs more. If you fell asleep at about the 7th inning as I did on Tuesday night, the Cardinals went on to lose in the 19th inning past 3:30 in the morning central time.
In that game, Mike Shildt not only didn’t substitute out any of the starting eight fielders for all 19 innings, but he used 10 relievers beyond Jack Flaherty who started and went 7.0 innings again but only gave up one hit.
The one-run loss definitely stung and that coming after a Brewers win meant the Cardinals’ lead fell to 2.5 games in the NL Central with four games to play. There shouldn’t be any sweating among fans yet about that lead as the math doesn’t favor the Brewers catching the Cardinals but it does make Wednesday’s game more important.
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With the magic number still hanging at 3, fans no longer have to worry about having to watch the Cardinals clinch the NL Central for the first time since 2015 on YouTube. What should be focused on is just having the Cardinals win. If the Cardinals win today and the Brewers lose (finally), any combination of a Brewers loss or Cardinals win over the Cardinals last three games or Brewers last four will result in a clinch for the Cardinals.
I don’t know about you, but I would prefer the Cardinals not have to rely on winning even two of three against the Cubs this weekend to clinch.
Back to Wacha, the bullpen is going to be gassed today after playing less than 12 hours earlier. The Cardinals need Wacha to put forth at the very least 5.0 innings and really need them to be competitive. Losing another game in the standings today could lead to the team being just a game up on the Brewers heading into the weekend.
As was said before the Cubs series, the easiest thing the team can do is handle their business. The Diamondbacks are not a great team and winning the series is just about a must at this point. Wacha will be a big part of it on Wednesday and he needs to prove he can still step it up in big spots.