An ideal landing spot for Michael Wacha that addresses an obvious need for the team is the St. Louis Cardinals.
Wacha finished 11-2, with a 3.32 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 2022, in a difficult American League East division. While he may have a tough time replicating last year’s production, it is a fascinating option. After a difficult 2020 and 2021, Wacha regained the stuff and command that had many using the word phenom in 2013.
Wacha spent seven seasons with St. Louis. In four of those seasons, posting an ERA of 3.38 or lower. Not a robust strikeout pitcher or enormous power guy, Wacha has always excelled when his command is there.
Riding shotgun in his old friend, Adam Wainwright’s final season would do Wacha and the Cardinals some good and is sure to push Wainwright as well. Adam spent most of the 2022 season in the shadow of his two pals, Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina as they rode off into the sunset.
This time, it is Adam’s final act. He would like nothing more than to exit a World Series Champion. The addition of Wacha would bolster a St. Louis rotation that needs pitching. With the departure of Jose Quintana, a Wacha add would set the Cardinal rotation like this:
• Jack Flaherty
• Jordan Montgomery
• Adam Wainwright
• Miles Mikolas
• Michael Wacha
The Cardinals have plenty of options that do not have to include Wacha. Steven Matz still has three years remaining on his four-year deal. Andre Pallante and Dakota Hudson are also options.
Michael Wacha allows the Cardinals flexibility and adds depth
• Dakota Hudson: A talented arm, but an inconsistent one can be moved to long or short relief.
• Andre Pallante: Nice value out of the bullpen and the ability to spot-start when needed should injuries outpace the rotation.
• Steven Matz: To date, underwhelming and mostly hurt. The tab is still open on Matz. In fairness, he has not had much opportunity.
Wacha has pitched 84 innings or more in eight of his ten Major League seasons. Seven of those at a minimum of 107 innings. A healthy Cardinals rotation is still the best in the National League Central. Some would argue Milwaukee. Adding Wacha ends that argument, and hands St. Louis the Central division.
Bases on balls was an issue that plagued the Cardinals in 2022. Wacha’s command in 2022 is the reason for the improvement. He walked 32 batters in 127 innings. The same walk tally from 2021, however, he allowed twenty-one fewer hits and five fewer home runs. His command and ability to spot pitches rivaled that of his early days in St. Louis.
Cardinals fans will remember, Michael Wacha almost single-handedly took the Cardinals to the 2013 World Series, and if it wasn’t for that meddling David Ortiz, who was hotter than a fish fry, they may have picked up their second ring in three seasons.
A homecoming of Michael Wacha would not carry the same fanfare as Albert Pujols, but it certainly would make the St. Louis Cardinals a better team.