Pitcher Michael Wacha can still remember it well–his first season in the big leagues and helping the St. Louis Cardinals advance to the World Series. Now eight seasons later and with free agency looming, the right-hander would like at least one more shot at winning with this team.
“Oh my–yeah, it’s been too long since we’ve been in the playoffs,” Wacha said. “That’s been our goal ever since Spring Training, get back to the playoffs and get back to those meaningful games. That’s where the real fun is. We’ve had a lot of fun in the past, but it’s time to get back there and experience that again. It’s just everybody going out there, taking care of their own business and playing together as a team and we can accomplish those goals.”
After making his last three appearances out of the bullpen, Wacha is back in the rotation and will start tonight’s game against Los Angeles–the same team in 2013 that he went 2-0 against with a 0.00 ERA in two starts (Games 2 & 6) to earn the NLCS MVP honors. Since then, he is 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in seven regular season starts against the Dodgers.
“Just going out there and trying to attack guys, throw quality strikes, limit them to weak contact, and swing and miss,” Wacha said. “Compete the best I can, that’s the only way I know to go about it.”
With his future uncertain past this season, there was some question if the Cardinals might try to move Wacha before the July 31st trade deadline. However, Team President John Mozeliak later said the Cardinals were not interested in trading from their Major League roster. For his part, Michael Wacha didn’t worry about it.
“I’ve never really put too much thought into the trade deadline in previous years and have to say it was about the same this year,” said Wacha. “It’s something that I can’t really control so I figure not spend too much time worrying about it. I try to just focus on playing this game.”
Saddened that Jedd Gyorko, who he described as a “great teammate, great friend”, was traded away Wacha echoed a feeling that was shared by several of his teammates after the deadline passed without a major trade–the Cardinals have enough to win.
“Oh yeah, everyone in this clubhouse knows we’ve got the squad to compete at a high level every single night,” Wacha stated. “Everyone’s real excited about how we’ve been playing and how we’re moving forward…a lot of excitement coming from our clubhouse.”
That thought process is consistent with what this team has shown all season–ignoring the outside distractions or questions.
“I think that’s one of the main strengths of this team, not worrying about what everyone else is saying outside of what we know in this clubhouse,” Wacha said. “If we stick with that, I think we’ll be in pretty good shape.”
Entering tonight, the St. Louis Cardinals are 1.5 games in back of Chicago in the NL Central and up by 0.5 games in the NL Wild Card.
photo credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports