St. Louis Cardinals' Michael Wacha Gets Reality Check

By Thom Tsang
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

It looked so easy, didn’t it?

Given the success that the St. Louis Cardinals have had in developing pitchers over the years, maybe assuming that Michael Wacha would have a Shelby Miller-like impact might have been the right thing to do.

After the right-hander’s sterling MLB debut for the redbirds, it wouldn’t have been a knock on anyone to forget that this was, in fact, just a 21-year old with just 52.2 innings of Triple-A experience being thrown into the fire at baseball’s highest level.

Well, consider the reminder served.

Wacha got his first dose of adversity in the bigs on Tuesday, lasting only 4.2 innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks, allowing a six runs on a whopping 10 hits and a walk. Only in one frame did he not allow a baserunner, and for the rest of the time, this was a hesitant pitcher who labored through 89 pitches and made mental errors like not walking A.J. Pollock to get to the pitcher in the fourth (Pollock wound up hitting a three-run-homer).

In short, this was just a young gun who just didn’t have his stuff and didn’t really quite know what to do about it.

Not that it should be considered a cause for alarm, though. In fact, a little adversity is not a bad thing at all. Considering that Wacha is essentially learning on the fly here, a start where he essentially got partially BABIP’d to death (.474, on a meager 15 percent line drive rate) is almost an opportunity: one that gives him a chance to show that un-quantifiable ability to bounce back.

Will he maintain belief in his stuff? Does the three doubles and one homer scare him off from his approach, or does will he continue to attack the strike zone?

Having to bounce back isn’t something that the young pitcher has had to do very much in his very quick rise to the bigs, but maybe just for once, a little meddling from the baseball gods will wind up yielding dividends for both Wacha and the Cardinals in the long run.

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