Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Has Michael Wacha pitched himself into postseason rotation?

The worst thing, for me at least, about living in the Chicago area is that I rarely get to see the Cardinals play (and I'm too cheap to pay for MLB's Extra Innings package).  So you can imagine my frustration upon learning that Michael Wacha had a no-hitter going and not being able to see it.  (Although, thanks to MLB Network, I was able to watch the last two innings).

Despite losing the no-hitter with two outs in the 9th (if only Wacha was a few inches taller), there's no doubt that Wacha is on a roll.  So much so, that the commentators on MLB Network were already saying he's a shoo-in for the postseason rotation.

In 5 September starts, Wacha is 2-1 with a 1.72 ERA.  Overall he is 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA.  If he is not one of the Cardinals top 4 starters (assuming the Cardinals use a 4-man rotation in the playoffs), then I don't know who is.

If Wacha does make the postseason rotation, then the most likely man out is Lance Lynn.  Adam Wainwright and Joe Kelly have been too good and Shelby Miller, who struggled in August (4.55 ERA), has bounced back nicely in September (2-0, 3.09 ERA). 

Lynn started off strong in April (4-0, 3.10 ERA) and May (3-1, 2.77 ERA), but struggled in June (3-1, 4.83 ERA), July (2-3, 4.84 ERA) and August (1-4, 5.84 ERA), nearly costing him his rotation spot.  He has bounced back in September (1-1, 2.66 ERA), but will it be enough for him to keep his rotation spot in the postseason.  Plus, Lynn has worked primarily out of the pen the last two postseasons.

There are other factors at play here, of course.  The Cardinals may not want to put Wacha in such a high pressure situation in his rookie year (see Ankiel, Rick) or they might just want to keep his innings down.  If that's the case, they may just decide to put Wacha in the pen and stick with Lynn in the rotation.  Or they could just go with a 3-man rotation. 

There is still some time for Mike Matheny and Co. to sort all of this out, but if it were up to me, I'd go with Wacha.

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