The National League Division Series has gone bad for the St. Louis Cardinals and now they find themselves on the brink of an earlier offseason than they hope. To try and ward off elimination from the MLB playoffs the Cardinals will send young Michael Wacha to the mound against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Without double-checking it would easily seem like a mismatch for a rookie to start an elimination playoff game against the Pirates at PNC Park but it might not be that cut and dried.
Wacha has faced the division rival Pirates once this season and to say it went well would be an understatement. He pitched a complete game, 2-hit shutout against them. Needless to say that puts a different spin on things. These two teams didn’t play a non-pressured game all season long so there is no need to worry about him not being accustomed to a pressure game against the Pirates. Although this level of pressure should be quite a bit larger than what he has faced before.
How he handles that might be a smaller factor however than where the pitches will be thrown from. His complete game shutout came at home in Busch Stadium. This ultra-pressure elimination game will happen at the incredibly loud and rowdy PNC Park in Pittsburgh. That is going to make a difference. The only question now is how big of a difference that will make for Wacha. To be sure he is not a sacrificial lamb out there; he’ll go in fighting for his team.