Regardless of what you may think of the St. Louis Cardinals, and the reviews have been pretty negative throughout the Major League playoffs, there’s little doubt that they feature one of the best stories that you’ll find anywhere this season. Throughout the postseason, we’ve seen the emergence of a potential star in starter Michael Wacha.
Wacha has shown us nothing but absolute brilliance since getting his crack at the rotation down the stretch and in the playoffs. He was considered a top prospect early in the year, but didn’t get the full opportunity until the tail end of 2013. He hasn’t wasted any time in introducing himself to a national stage.
His last start of the regular season, against Washington, saw him fall just one out short of a no-hitter. That came against a Nationals team that was red hot at the time. He did it again vs. Pittsburgh in the National League Division Series, where he carried a no hitter deep into the game before Pedro Alvarez brought it to an end.
He was the Most Valuable Player of the National League Championship Series, where he won a pair, including outdueling the best pitcher on the planet, in Clayton Kershaw, by miles in the clinching Game 6. Everything we’ve seen has indicated he’s the real deal. At the same time, though, how seriously should we be taking Wacha after such a short time?
That’s the tricky part about all of this. Yes, Wacha has been brilliant. Yes, Wacha has been doing it on a national level, where the spotlight and the pressure are as high as they will ever be. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that it’s a sample size that is still pretty miniscule.
It’s clear that Wacha does have the kind of stuff to be very successful. He relies particularly on a fastball/changeup combination. That change becomes much more dangerous when coupled with a fastball that sits in the mid to upper 90s. The kid throws gas.
This increased work load could lead to some health issues for Wacha in the future, but at this point, there’s no reason to think that he’s not the real deal. Is he going to continue to sit hitters down at the rate he is now, particularly like he is in the playoffs? No. Is he an ace? Probably not. However, he’s certainly worth the hype he’s receiving, and is just another example of the Cardinals’ prowess in drafting and developing talent.