Wacha has work cut out for him
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Michael Wacha has some tough acts to follow, given St. Louis Cardinals rookie pitchers have already combined for 12 victories.
Less than a year after the Cardinals drafted him in the first round out of Texas A&M, the team’s top pitching prospect believes he’s ready — even though he’s on the fast track due to necessity.
“I’m fresh and I’m ready to go. I’m here to stay,” Wacha said before Wednesday night’s game against the Royals.
The 21-year-old right-hander was 4-0 and led the Pacific Coast League with a 2.05 ERA. The Cardinals wanted Wacha to get more minor league experience, so they called up less-celebrated John Gast and Tyler Lyons the first two times they needed to plug in a starter.
Wacha said he didn’t mind repeatedly getting left behind.
“I’m sure they wanted me to get more innings down there,” Wacha said. “Unfortunately, things happened up here with the injuries and stuff. I don’t know how to put it, but I guess it was just my time.”
Wacha will be the team’s eighth rookie pitcher to appear this year and third to debut as a starter Thursday night against the Royals in place of Gast, who is out with a shoulder injury. During a media scrum that accompanied the heightened expectations, Wacha mentioned the word fun a lot and didn’t seem concerned.
Taking note of the attention, manager Mike Matheny borrowed from John Tudor, an often irascible pitcher in the 1980s and ‘90s for St. Louis, when he said, “Obviously, we did restrict the number of media passes today.”
“There’s going to hype.”
Wacha is the team’s fastest pitcher to make his debut after the draft in a quarter century since Cris Carpenter was a first-rounder in 1987 and made his debut in May 14, 1988.