Earlier this week I made a bold prediction saying that Miles Mikolas would win 15 games. Some of you didn’t think that was too bold, and if I’m honest, maybe I can be bolder. So today, I’m gonna make an even bolder prediction, but one that I fully believe in.
Michael Wacha will get some Cy Young votes this season. And it starts today at Citi Field where he will be facing the Mets and Jacob DeGrom.
Now… I’m not saying he is gonna win the Cy Young (although how awesome would that be?)
It’s been more of a hunch for me lately. But don’t worry. I’m gonna get into the nitty gritty details as to why I feel this way.
Back when Wacha arrived in the Major Leagues, he was put into the mix of top arms such as Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, and Trevor Rosenthal. And at the time, in my opinion, Wacha was the guy I was most excited about. So when he tore it up in 2013, I thought he was going to be a stable guy in the rotation for years to come. And while he has been in the rotation, injuries have kept him from reaching his true potential. But how could we forget his magical postseason run?
Wacha has great stuff. He has one of the best fastball velocities in the game. He consistently sits in the top 15 in average fastball velocity for starters. Something I’ve noticed is how he tends to gain velocity and change his speed throughout the game. Over the course of an inning I’ve seen Wacha throw a fastball at 93 then the next pitch was 99. It’s a part of his game that surely keeps batters on their toes. He does have a tendency to keep his fastball up in the zone, so when he is aiming low, that fastball rises into the batters wheelhouse. But his ability to change speed is incredible.
Michael Wacha vs. Drew: 73 mph curveball, 88 mph changeup, 95 mph fastball. Three-pitch strikeout, 22 mph high/lo differential.
If you look at his ERA over the last couple seasons, it hasn’t been great. He had a 5.09 ERA in 2016 and followed it up with a better 2017 at 4.13 ERA. One statistic in particular seems to think that these numbers are a bit inflated. According to his FIP(Fielding Independent Pitching) those numbers should have looked closer to the high 3’s, more specifically 3.91 and 3.63 respectively. Now even at those numbers, Wacha won’t get the Cy Young votes I’ve brought up. But there is more to like about his upcoming season.
In many crucial stats, he improved tremendously from 2016 into 2017, and I can see him improving even more this season. He was able to make 30 starts and pitched 165.2 innings compared to 138.0 a year before. As previously shown he lowered his ERA almost a full run and also lowered his WHIP from 1.47 to 1.35. It’s not elite, but a step in the right direction. He lowered his H/9 from 10.4 to 9.2, and he raised his K/9 from 7.4 to 8.6. His walk rate and home run rate were very similar, and I don’t see a significant change this season. Back in his All-Star season of 2015, he posted similar numbers to his 2017 campaign, but the difference was that in 2015 he didn’t let as many runners on base. Wacha actually struck out more guys in 2017 despite throwing 16 fewer innings. The main difference seems to be H/9. In 2015 this was 8.0 H/9 as opposed to 9.2 H/9 in 2017. Now from 2016-2017 there were improvements made, but I truly believe for him to take that step towards Cy Young votes, he has to limit his baserunners. He seems to have pretty good command, but with throwing strikes, batters have good pitches to hit, and can take advantage of that. He will need to utilize his curveball as a swing and miss pitch to hopefully drive up his strikeout numbers.
But the biggest thing standing in Michael’s way?
Michael Wacha: Consistent, 26 y/o, 100+ IP/2+ WAR pitcher for 4 straight years. Incredible rookie year. NLCS MVP. 3.61 career FIP (25th is MLB since 2013, min 600 IP) All while battling a career altering injury
His shoulder has definitely taken a beating ever since Wacha joined the Major Leagues. His health has been one of the biggest concerns surrounding Wacha’s ability as a Starter. The staff as well as the fanbase is concerned about his pitch counts, and his struggles going deep into games. Statistically, Wacha doesn’t fare well late into ball games. When he gets to the third part of the order, teams start hitting. I’m assuming that for at least a portion of the 2018 season, Wacha probably won’t see the 7th, barring a ridiculously low pitch count. Although his shoulder has been a bit of a concern, Wacha has been rather consistent during his big league run.
What kind of stats does Wacha have to put up to receive Cy Young Votes? I’d say stellar. The National League is packed with pitchers who have the talent to put up big numbers (Syndergaard, Kershaw, Scherzer, Strasburg). Wacha will have his work cut out for him. To me, this is the minimum he would have to do. But darn it, I think he can do it.
18-7, 2.90 ERA (or below), 190 IP (at least), WHIP 1.20, 200 K’s, 8.0 H/9 (at least)
What do you guys think. I think he can do it. I think he will do it. (Get votes that is)
I’m excited to announce my campaign this season representing @koutpoverty @BigLeagueImpact @food4thehungry to help end poverty for some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Please join me by making your pledge for every strikeout I throw! https://t.co/8udRHR85WR #SaturdayStart
Thanks for Reading!
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