Exit Interview 2017: Michael Wacha

For the sixth straight year, we’re taking a look back at everyone that played for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  Whether they were a major contributor or a bit player, here all year or for just a little while, we’ll look at their season and talk about what went right and what went wrong.  The stat line listed is just their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers in the discussion may be for the entire year.  Imagine this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a little review on their way home for the winter.  As always when you see incredible artistry in the blogs, all credit for the header work goes to @cardinalsgifs.

Player: Michael Wacha

Season stats: 12-9, 4.13 ERA, 30 games, 165.2 IP, 170 H, 55 BB, 158 K, 1.358 WHIP, 3.63 FIP, 1.5 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Hero 1, Goat 6

Overall grade: B

Positives: Stayed healthy all year long, tying a career high in starts….had his highest K/9 rate since his rookie season….threw a three-hit shutout against the Mets in July….threw eight scoreless innings against the Pirates in September, quieting bullpen/injury talk….lefties hit 28 points lower against him and had three fewer home runs….had a 3.41 ERA at home….had four wins and a 1.93 ERA in July….had a 1.63 ERA in games he recorded a win….had a 2.62 ERA in games where he got two or fewer runs of support….batters hit .193 against him with a full count, though the OBP was .495….had a .661 OPS against in low leverage situations….batters hit just .196 when they saw him for the first time in a game….the OPS against on the first 25 pitches was .466….had a 1.50 ERA in two starts against the Reds.

Negatives: His 3.0 BB/9 rate was the highest of his career….had a 5.40 ERA over his last three starts….allowed five or more runs seven times, including back-to-back games in August….righties hit .280 against him….had a 4.97 ERA on the road….had an ERA over 5.00 in three of the six months….batters hit .409/.417/.656 on the first pitch….they had a 1.057 OPS when they were ahead in the count….in high leverage situations hitters got him for a .348 average and four homers in 102 PA….batters had a .900 OPS the third time they saw him….had a 7.77 ERA against the Cubs.

Overview: It was a bit of a mixed bag for Wacha this season.  Again, you can’t overemphasize how important it was that he stayed healthy all season long.  That shoulder issue is always going to be a concern but seeing that he could make 30 starts is a bit less of a worry.  That said, there are still a lot of questions.  When you look at the results, you could see where the bullpen might be a good place for him (assuming the shoulder can handle it) but with the rotation in the….interesting shape that it is, it is difficult to imagine taking him out of that role.

The scouting report on Wacha coming up was that he had a high floor but a low ceiling.  While it seems to be that he could be better overall than the numbers said he was this season, it is very likely that the 2013 and 2014 Wacha was the best we are ever going to get out of him.  There are question marks around a lot of people, but I’m not sure there are any that have more than #52.

Outlook: Wacha’s going to be a starter next year and probably the third in the rotation, depending on what the team does in the offseason about shoring up that part of the squad.  With as many arms as there are in the system, you’d think the club would have a short leash on him and perhaps have that difficult bullpen conversation with him if necessary.  Then again, he could come out and be amazing.  We just don’t know.

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