NLDS 2013: St. Louis Cardinals Wouldn't Have Started Wacha Without Yadier Molina Behind Plate

By Sara Lefebvre
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Cardinals rookie starter Michael Wacha wowed everyone with his performance on Monday that helped send his team to Game 5 of the NLDS, but would he have been on the mound without Yadier Molina as his battery mate? The answer is a resounding no.

It was Molina who caught Wacha for three innings in an early spring training game and said afterward that he could pitch in the big leagues right then. Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright has said that Molina brings out the best in a pitcher — and then some.

The Cardinals’ rookie pitchers have won 36 games this season, and they all give credit to “Yadi.” They trust his pitch-calling. Shelby Miller estimates he has shaken Molina off about once all season. Miller came close to a no-hitter in May when he retired 27 Colorado Rockies in a row after giving up a single to the first batter of the game.

What if Molina had been catching Johnny Cueto in the NL Wild Card game? You can bet he would have gone out to the mound long before Cueto got so flustered by the crowd noise that he dropped the ball before one of his pitches.

There is no doubt that Wacha has the stuff to succeed no matter who is behind the plate. He almost pitched a no-hitter in college at Texas A&M. But when the Cardinals are thinking about sending a rookie out to make his 10th major league start in an elimination game in hostile territory, they don’t do it unless they have Molina backing him up.

Sara Lefebvre is a St Louis Cardinals writer for Connect with her on Google.

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