Last night’s loss was a tough one to swallow. The offense could not get anything going. But there were some positives to take out of the game and the main one is about the guy who started out on the mound, Michael Wacha.
It is hard to take positives out of the three game losing streak that the Cardinals currently find themselves on. The offense has gone dark. The power is not there at least for now. But what has been there is the starting pitching. Jaime Garcia gave up 3 ER over 6.1 innings. Waino was Waino when he shut out the Astros over 7 innings. But the real improvement we have been seeing and saw on display last night is the 24 year old, Michael Wacha.
Wacha, over his last 2 start,s has given up only 3 runs over 14.2 innings. This is hop, jump and a skip away from where we saw Wacha a few weeks ago. He had an ERA well above 4 and at some points 5. June has been his month. He has an ERA of 3.20 over the course of this month. This is generally the kind of number we expect Wacha to put up.
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) June 18, 2016
The main reasons for his rise in dominance are his abilities to limit walks and to time his change-up. His walks/9 has decreased by around 5% due to mostly the lengths of his starts now compared to those at the beginning of the year. But the main turn-around has been his timing on his calling card pitch.
When a pitcher throws a CU without the proper timing, the pitch can lay flat and trend upwards in the zone. This can lead to hard contact and line drives. The long ball has been one of Wacha’s main weaknesses over the course of the season and this can mostly be due to his lack of timing on all of his pitches. But his go-to has always been his CU. That was his put away pitch and in 2016, he didn’t have it. The CU is especially devastating to LH hitters. It can also be used to induce weak contact and get a much needed double play.
With Wacha not having this valuable arrow in his quiver, it is much harder for him to pitch efficiently as well as effectively. But he looks to have found it. Hitters flounder now at the plate when he throws it and has gotten a few strike outs off of the pitch. This will allow Wacha to join the trend of Cardinals starting pitching getting better and better with every start.
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