Wacha to the Bullpen

(Busch Stadium) Besides making a change at their lead-off spot, the St. Louis Cardinals have also adjusted their starting rotation.

“Michael Wacha is now in our bullpen,” manager Mike Shildt shared. “It’s going to be for some period of time, until Michael gets back to a version of him that he knows he’s capable of and we know he’s capable of.”

Wacha went 4.2 innings and allowed six earned runs in his last start this past Wednesday. He is will be available to pitch in relief as early as Saturday, which would be his normal turn for side throwing.

“Clearly a tough decision,” Shildt continued. “He understandably was disappointed, but understood. Accepted it like the professional he is and challenged himself and knew that he would go and contribute to this team in a bullpen role. The thing that’s also a little frustrating on both sides, I felt like–one of the things that serves me well, but I can understand how it can be the other way too, is you evaluate what you see and not the result.

“What I saw from Michael in the last outing was a lot better stuff. Velocity was still down a little bit, signature changeup worked well, but I saw he was synced up better. Locating his pitches better. A lot of smaller misses. The reality is six runs scored on 18 pitches. We can’t be naïve to the fact it’s a results-oriented business at the end of the day. The timing of him pitching better, but being on a string of inconsistent outings affected the decision.”

“Pitch distribution is something you can also take a look at,” John Mozeliak said. “When he first came up, fastball-changeup was something he could really go to. Now, fastball was harder back then and changeup has always been a great pitch, but I think trying to strike that right balance of what he should be throwing and when he should be throwing is something we should think about.”

ALEX REYES UPDATE

The Cardinals have not yet decided who take Wacha’s place in the rotation, but Shildt did share it will be a pitcher from Memphis who will take the start on May 29th. Alex Reyes is not expected to be that pitcher.

“He’ll do another start down in Palm Beach for sure,” Mozeliak said. “After that, he’ll be evaluated to see if he’s clear to hold a bat.”

Allowing two hits and one run, Reyes threw 70 pitches in five innings in his start for Palm Beach (A+) on Thursday. It was his first start since being placed on the Memphis (AAA) injured list April 28th with a broken left finger.

“Obviously, positive,” Mozeliak said. “Stuff looked great, which was good to see, so I don’t feel like we took a major step back. Now we’ve got to get him into some games. Checked that box last night.”

Mozeliak also shared that Austin Gomber (biceps) had thrown a bullpen yesterday and was expected back on the mound early next week.

photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

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