Coming into these playoffs, and particularly the National League Championship Series, there were questions about whether or not the St. Louis Cardinals and their young starters could hack it. Not that anyone would doubt the Cardinals’ organizational depth, but with relatively inexperienced starters, could they handle the gravity of the situation?
Those questions have quickly become answers. Joe Kelly outdueled Zack Greinke in Game 1 of the NLCS, before Michael Wacha went out and dominated in the way that he’s done since the calendar turned to September. He bested the game’s top starter, in Clayton Kershaw, as the Cardinals took the 2-0 edge in the series.
In the case of Wacha, though, he has the makings of an elite starter in this league. He’s been absolutely fantastic since his last start of the regular season. He came up big in Game 5 of the NLDS against Pittsburgh, before completely stifling this Los Angeles Dodgers offense in Game 2 on Saturday night.
Wacha only made nine starts for the Cardinals in the regular season, but he was very impressive. He posted a 4-1 record on the season, across 15 total appearances, striking out 65 hitters in 64.2 innings and walking only 19. The last couple of months, though, have seen Wacha transform into a dominant arm for St. Louis. His last start of the year featured an outing in which he threw 8.2 innings before allowing a hit against Washington.
Not only has he impressed as the season has worn on, but he’s proven more than capable of stepping up in the big moment, even at age 22. He pitched into the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 5 of the NLDS, allowing only one hit (albeit a solo home run), which didn’t come until the eighth.
Against the Dodgers in Game 2 of the Cardinals, Wacha tossed 6.2 innings of shutout ball and punched out eight LA hitters. The Cardinals went on to win the game by a 1-0 count.
It hasn’t taken long for Wacha to prove he’s the real deal. Only 22 years old, he’s been impressing the Cardinals all season, and is now showing what he can do on a national level. He has fantastic stuff, as the Dodgers now know, and he’s going to be a must-watch for this Cardinals team moving forward.