The wait is over folks. Michael Wacha returns on Thursday against Milwaukee.
The righthander will be on a four inning limit and will likely be followed by Marco Gonzales. The action will be the first for Wacha since June 17th. His rehab start on Sunday in Springfield produced zero ill effects and Wacha is ready to roll.
It’s hard to expect too much from Wacha in his first start back, but a 60 pitch limit seems about right for the young pitcher. When right, Wacha can change a rotation. For a 2-3 starts, he will be getting his feet wet again in the big leagues. Wacha was the victim of bad run support, going 5-5 in 90.1 innings before his injury. The victim of countless rain delays and low run support, Wacha compiled a 2.79 ERA and a 4-1 K-BB ratio in his outings.
With the offense kicking it up a notch these past 3 weeks, Wacha can be sure to find more support behind him as well as the best defense in the National League.
Wacha will replace Justin Masterson in the rotation, who will go to the bullpen to work on his mechanics and strive to improve his effectiveness in the final stretch.
Marco Gonzales pitched 6 solid innings against Chicago on Saturday night, and will likely come in behind Wacha on Thursday night. Talk about a 1-2 punch of young dynamic pitching for the struggling Brewers to tango with.
The Cards send Adam Wainwright to the bump tonight to take on Jeff Locke and the Pirates in a rematch of last week’s 3-1 Cards loss. The game that decided the series in PNC Park and ended the road trip. I expect Waino to be dominant tonight and not just produce a quality start. I have a feeling he would agree with me there.
What does Wacha’s return mean? A number of things. Foremost, he provides the Cards leverage in the rotation to find out what Gonzales has in backing Wacha up and gives them options with Masterson. Wacha may have rushed back, but the lack of pressure on him to go deep into games with the expanded rosters helps his comeback even more. If he is dialed in by the end of the month, this rotation gets fierce as the playoffs begin, presuming the Cards earn a berth.
Ease up on Wacha in his first 1-3 starts. It will take time for his pitching to get back to big game mode. His changeup may not be as sharp early on and he may walk a few more than he would like. Like Yadi Molina, Wacha’s return could pay huge dividends towards the end of the month.
Thanks for reading and have a good night.