St. Louis Cardinals: Can Young Michael Wacha Handle The Pressure In Game 6?

By Randy Holt
Michael Wacha
Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals have boasted one of the better stories in baseball for these Major League playoffs. A team known for their ability to develop talent has had several young arms make an impact in one way or another during this postseason, with one of those arms set to take the bump for Game 6 of the 2013 World Series on Wednesday night.

It’ll be Michael Wacha matching up against the veteran John Lackey, as the Cards try and push the series to a decisive seventh game. Given some of the pitchers we’ve seen Wacha outduel already this postseason, Lackey hardly seems like a tough matchup. But the force Wacha may be pitching against is really himself.

Wacha hasn’t succumbed to pressure at any point during these playoffs. After nearly tossing a no hitter in his last start of the regular season, he has been flat out dominant in these playoffs. His ERA for the entire playoffs is at 1.00, and through four starts, he’s struck out 28 hitters, while only walking eight.

We’ve seen Wacha matchup, and outperform, the best. He nearly no-hit Pittsburgh in the National League Division Series. He bested Clayton Kershaw in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. His opponent is of no concern to him at this point, he’s made that much clear.

Nonetheless, one has to wonder if Wacha will be able to keep it going, with the Cardinals’ season on the line. He has the stuff to do it. He has an electric fastball, and terrific breaking stuff. His arsenal isn’t going to be the issue. Whether or not he can handle the situation will be, however.

Wacha has pitched with a wisdom beyond his years. Perhaps that carries over into Wednesday night, and the Cards survive, or he at least gives them the opportunity to do so. At the same time, it’s important to keep in mind that he’s only 22. Game 6 of the World Series, where his team isn’t in control, is a tough situation for anyone to handle.

Even Wacha.

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