Wacha Wows, Lyons Loses

Once again, Mike Matheny sent out Michael Wacha with a long layoff between game action.  This time, it went much better.

Obviously, there’s no comparison between a pitcher’s first spring training game and being called on with the season on the line after not pitching for a month.  Still, it was very good to see Wacha not only healthy enough to get through two innings with no issues, but to do so in a strong fashion.  As Derrick Goold writes, Wacha appears to have the “tilt” back in his pitches that was a key to his success early in his career.  He didn’t have that much last year, so if he has regained it, that’s a great sign.  Wacha struck out four of the six batters he faced and while that’s probably a little stronger rate than we’ll usually see out of him, having the ability to get the strikeout is huge for a pitcher.

Now, as the curmudgeon Joe Strauss somewhat accurately points out, spring stats aren’t that important.  The fact that Wacha struck out four might be more because the hitters are still behind the pitchers.  While the stats aren’t a big deal, though, the process is, the mechanics are, the feel is and all of those were in a positive direction for Wacha yesterday.  Of course, most of us don’t question his stuff, we question the health.  So far, it seems like the stress reaction isn’t going to rear its head again for a while, which is good, though I think all of us are going to hold our breath for a while.

It wasn’t a good day for Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons, though.  Lyons was touched for four hits and gave up a walk in his inning of work, which allowed two of the three Boston runs to score.  Without seeing the game, it’s tough to know what the issue was, but reading the play-by-play, it doesn’t sound like they were fluke hits.  His walk led off the inning, which didn’t help matters, and he actually got a bit lucky by having a runner thrown out at third, otherwise it might have been worse.  Again, spring training, rough days happen, etc.  Hopefully this was his blip on the radar and he’ll be back to cruising soon.

Allen Craig came on the trip, as we noted yesterday, and went 0-4 against his former teammates.  Perhaps not surprisingly, his interview with the St. Louis press was less than illuminating, full of the cliches we expect from ballplayers.  I don’t know that Craig is that expansive in the best of times, so I don’t know that it was a surprise that he was so laconic with his answers.  Matheny thinks that he’s going to have a big year, but that might be more being polite than anything.  Craig is hitting .200 (2/10) with two walks and three strikeouts so far this spring.  As we’ve said, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything, though I imagine Craig would like to be hitting more like .400.  Still a lot of time in the spring, though, for things to turn around for him.

Lance Lynn does have a hip flexor issue and they’ll slow him down a bit.  That’s actually a good thing for evaluation purposes, because it means they can keep Jaime Garcia and Marco Gonzales in the starting rotation for a little longer this way.  It sounds like it’s a pretty minor issue and it shouldn’t keep him down for very long.  Again, one of those things he could probably pitch through in the regular season, but the spring allows them to take it easy and let him heal up fully.

Cards take on the Astros today and, as it was last time the two teams got together, it will only be on Houston radio, but you can listen to that via GameDay Audio if you have a subscription.  The Royals are up for Pepper today, so that can be your afternoon reading!

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