After a Disappointing End to 2015, Michael Wacha Hopes to Start Strong and Stay Strong This Season
In 2015, Michael Wacha filled in very nicely for the Cardinals during the extended absence of Adam Wainwright. Wacha was on fire to start the season in 2015, but then started to fade away by the end of the season. He made the National League All-Star Game in mid-July, but then fell off the radar a little bit in September.
Unfortunately, Wacha’s struggles late in the regular season transitioned quite well to his postseason performance, where he was shelled by the Cubs in Game 3 at Wrigley Field. Wacha showed that he certainly has the potential to be the top pitcher in the National League, but now there is a cloud of uncertainty around his durability.
The games count for more in October, so while Wacha looks to get off to a great start against Pittsburgh, he needs to realize that his other 30 starts are just as important. Mike Matheny realizes this as well, so he offered up some changes for Wacha in Spring Training.
— The Birds On The Bat (@BirdsOnTheBat13) March 30, 2016
According to Mark Saxon of ESPN.com, the Cardinals asked Wacha to rely on his cutter more in 2016. The Cardinals believe that the cutter will be more effective for Wacha because it will lead to less strikeouts and more efficiency in 2016. Wacha has a flurry of other pitches he can utilize, but his goal needs to be altered this season. Instead of going for the K every at bat, he needs to get an out and keep chugging on to the next inning.
While his fastball and changeup are his dominant pitches, Wacha has looked to improve his cutter and curveball in Spring Training. If he can showcase four tough pitches for hitters, it will only make him more confusing on the mound. Wacha can play around with these developing pitches a little bit more in April, but he needs to have his pitches ready to go fairly soon.
While there’s clearly no need for Wacha to completely reverse his pitching style, a couple of tweaks could go a long way in improving Wacha’s longevity in 2016. If the Cardinals are going to be successful this season, Wacha will have to be the same good pitcher in April and October. So, let’s hope that Michael Wacha starts strong Tuesday night @ Pittsburgh, and then finishes strong at the end of the long season.