In case there was any doubt as to who should be the Cardinals 5th starter, between Tyler Lyons, Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha, Wacha put those doubts to rest last night.
Pitching in the heat of a pennant race against the team chasing the Cardinals, Wacha hurled 6 shutout innings, allowing only 3 hits and 2 walks.
Of course, it would have been nice if the Cards could have mustered more than just 2 hits (none beyond the 3rd inning), as they were shutout by Homer Bailey and crew to put the Cardinals now 2 back of the Pirates for the division lead and only 1.5 games ahead of the Reds.
However, that should not diminish what Wacha accomplished. His performance last night should solidify his spot in the starting rotation for the rest of the season.
But, it should not end there.
I think that Wacha could possibly be the Cardinals 4th starter in the playoffs, behind Adam Wainwright, Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller. Lance Lynn has been inconsistent all season and I'm not sure I'd trust him in a playoff game.
However, the Cardinals will likely go with Lynn in the playoff rotation and use Wacha in relief, in order to protect Wacha and not put too much pressure on him.
Come next spring, we'll likely see another "battle" for the 5th starter spot in spring training. However, it will probably just be window dressing, as Wacha will likely be handed the job, just like Miller was this spring.
One thing is for sure, I'm excited to see what this kid can do on a regular basis and we should get a good feel for that down the stretch.