After a rough five game stretch in August, St. Louis Cardinals starter Michael Wacha appears to be rounding back into form as the team heads down the stretch and tries to fight their way into a playoff position.
Wacha has thrown at least 6.0 innings in each of his last three starts–including 8.0 scoreless innings this past Sunday against Pittsburgh.
“It’s that time of the year where you’re trying to make the playoffs and every game matters,” said Wacha afterwards. “Obviously, every one matters throughout the season, but now when it gets down to it just try to get out there, work your tail off, and get a win.”
In that last start against the Pirates, Wacha threw a total of 27 balls to the 28 hitters he faced. He also touched 99mph on the radar with his fastball.
“We’re going to be playing some playoff-type atmosphere games coming down the stretch here, especially in our division,” he sad. “Every game is intensified, it’s magnitude. It’s big time games so it’s a lot of fun. You get a little extra adrenaline out there.”
Today certainly fits that bill as the Cardinals take on the Chicago Cubs in the second game of their three game series, now trailing the NL Central leaders by 4.0 games after yesterday’s 8-2 loss.
In his career, Wacha has had a rough time at Wrigley Field–he is 1-3 in six starts and his 6.17 ERA (35.0 IP) is the highest among qualified pitchers (min. 30 inn.) in the ballpark.
He’ll be opposed by Kyle Hendricks, who has posted a 2.58 ERA (17 ER/59.1 IP) in his 10 starts since returning from the disabled list (right hand tendinitis) July 24th. He’s gone 2-2 in those games while holding opponents to a .296 OBP and .379 slugging percentage.
In his one previous start this season against St. Louis, Hendricks allowed 4 runs in 4.0 innings against the Cardinals.
photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports