Michael Wacha
Michael Wacha
28-Year-Old PitcherSP
St. Louis Cardinals
2019 Fantasy Outlook
There was a stretch in 2018 where it seemed like Wacha had found a time machine, as he was dealing as he did as a rookie in 2014. Over that 10-game stretch, Wacha went 6-0 with a 1.74 ERA and struck out 23% of the batters he faced. The fact he pitched in just 15 games and had an overall 3.20 ERA tells you two things: he ended up hurt (oblique), and he pitched poorly in the bookends around that 10-game stretch before going down. Wacha’s FIP was a full run higher than his actual ERA because he got away with a lot of walks thanks to a surprisingly low batting average on balls in play. Wacha’s 10% K-BB rate ranked 111th out of the 144 starting pitchers who worked at least 80 innings in 2018. For all his talents, he has but twice made 30 starts in a season. The skills are there, but the consistency and health are not. He is a filler or a flier more than part of a foundation. Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
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$Signed a one-year, $6.35 million contract with the Cardinals in January of 2019, avoiding arbitration.
Short outing in no-decision
PSt. Louis Cardinals
August 21, 2019
Wacha didn't factor into the decision in Tuesday's 9-4 win over the Brewers, giving up three hits and a walk over four scoreless innings while striking out five.
ANALYSIS
The right-hander was pitching well and had thrown only 73 pitches (46 strikes) through four frames, but with the bases loaded and two outs in a 1-0 game in the bottom of the fourth, Cards manager Mike Shildt elected to pinch hit for Wacha when his turn in the batting order came around. He's got a respectable 4.09 ERA and 18:6 K:BB through 22 innings since the All-Star break, but until he's allowed to pitch deeper into games, he'll be a tough player to roster in most fantasy formats. Wacha will next take the mound Sunday, at home against the Rockies.
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2017
 
 
-15%
BAA vs LHP
2019
 
 
-23%
BAA vs LHP
2018
 
 
-4%
BAA vs LHP
2017
 
 
-10%
BAA vs LHP
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2017vs Left .241 665 134 65 142 31 2 16
Since 2017vs Right .283 832 175 71 209 33 2 31
2019vs Left .248 165 33 18 36 9 1 6
2019vs Right .324 276 47 27 77 11 0 15
2018vs Left .217 175 37 13 34 5 0 3
2018vs Right .225 180 34 23 34 6 0 6
2017vs Left .252 325 64 34 72 17 1 7
2017vs Right .280 376 94 21 98 16 2 10
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2017
 
 
-25%
ERA at Home
2019
 
 
-9%
ERA at Home
2018
 
 
-10%
ERA at Home
2017
 
 
-31%
ERA at Home
ERA WHIP IP W L SV K/9 BB/9 HR/9
Since 2017Home 3.62 1.31 179.0 15 6 0 8.3 3.1 0.9
Since 2017Away 4.84 1.49 169.1 11 11 0 7.6 4.0 1.6
2019Home 4.91 1.58 36.2 2 1 0 8.1 3.7 1.5
2019Away 5.40 1.62 61.2 4 5 0 6.9 4.4 2.2
2018Home 3.08 1.22 52.2 5 1 0 8.2 3.6 0.9
2018Away 3.41 1.26 31.2 3 1 0 6.5 4.3 1.1
2017Home 3.41 1.25 89.2 8 4 0 8.5 2.5 0.6
2017Away 4.97 1.49 76.0 4 5 0 8.6 3.6 1.3
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Stat Review
How does Michael Wacha compare to other starting pitchers?
This section compares his stats with all starting pitcher seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 120 innings)*. The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.

* Exit Velocity, Barrels/BBE %, Balls Hit 95+ MPH %, and Spin Rate are benchmarked against this season's data (min 70 IP). See here for more exit velocity/barrels stats plus an explanation of current limitations with that data set.
  • K/BB
    Strikeout to walk ratio.
  • K/9
    Average strikeouts per nine innings.
  • BB/9
    Average walks per nine innings.
  • HR/9
    Average home runs allowed per nine innings.
  • Fastball
    Average fastball velocity.
  • ERA
    Earned run average. The average earned runs allowed per nine innings.
  • WHIP
    Walks plus hits per inning pitched.
  • BABIP
    Batting average on balls in play. Measures how many balls in play against a pitcher go for hits.
  • GB/FB
    Groundball to flyball ratio. The higher the number, the more likely a pitcher is to induce groundballs.
  • Left On Base
    The percentage of base runners that a pitcher strands on base over the course of a season.
  • Exit Velocity
    The speed of the baseball as it comes off the bat, immediately after a batter makes contact.
  • Barrels/BBE
    The percentage of batted ball events resulting in a Barrel. A Barrel is a batted ball with similar exit velocity and launch angle to past ones that led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage.
  • Spin Rate
    Spin Rate is the rate of spin on a baseball after it is released. It is measured in revolutions per minute (rpm).
  • Balls Hit 95+ MPH
    The percentage of batted balls hit that met or exceeded the 95 MPH threshold.
  • Swinging Strike
    The percentage of pitches that result in a swing and a miss.
K/BB
1.78
 
K/9
7.3
 
BB/9
4.1
 
HR/9
1.9
 
Fastball
93.0 mph
 
ERA
5.22
 
WHIP
1.61
 
BABIP
.318
 
GB/FB
1.65
 
Left On Base
75.4%
 
Exit Velocity
88.3 mph
 
Barrels/BBE
8.1%
 
Spin Rate
1974 rpm
 
Balls Hit 95+ MPH
35.6%
 
Swinging Strike
9.7%
 
Advanced Pitching Stats
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Defensive Stats
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
While Wacha has not developed into an ace as some expected, the right-hander has performed at an above-average level when on the field over the past four seasons, and he may not be done improving. He boosted his strikeout rate from 18.8 percent to 22.5 percent last season, thanks in part to an uptick in first-pitch strike rate to a career-high 65.8 percent (from 59.1 percent), and he maintained a walk rate right around his career average of 7.6 percent. Wacha trimmed his HR/9 slightly (to 0.92), which was no small feat in 2017, but manager Mike Matheny was quick to give Wacha the hook when he didn't have it; he had eight starts of 4.1 innings or fewer and that led to a modest innings total over 30 starts. That's probably a good thing for a player with Wacha's injury history, and that kind of limited workload is not a big deterrent in fantasy in this day and age with so few players throwing 200 innings.
Things went from bad to worse for Wacha when an inflamed shoulder sent him to the DL for over a month from August to September. There had been high hopes that he'd be ready to take the next step in establishing himself as a solid major-league starter, but a 4.62 ERA and 1.44 WHIP built over 24 starts did just the opposite. He also managed to average just 5.5 innings per start while his strikeout rate fell for the third straight year. Wacha's array of struggles have sparked conversations about transitioning him to a relief role and dropping him from the rotation altogether, and based off last season's performance, St. Louis has every right to do so. Opponents owned a .289 batting average and .800 OPS when facing Wacha, both of which are career-highs for the 25-year-old righty. He'll likely stretch out during spring training in case injuries impact the Cards' projected starting five, but Wacha's 2017 may feature a transition to a super-relief role.
If one were to look at Wacha’s ERA by halves, it looks like he started strong and then faded with a 2.93/4.01 split, but that doesn’t really tell the story. First off, he had a 2.69 ERA through August before a really rough September (7.88). His first six starts yielded a 2.09 ERA, but just a 4.4 K/9 which left many skeptical. He then ran off an ace-like 19-start stretch of 2.88 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 8.7 K/9 in 119 frames before September. That’s where the wheels come off with seven home runs allowed and a 1.1 K:BB ratio in 25 innings. It looks a lot like normal fatigue of a young pitcher grinding through his first full season as the velocity dropped and homers spiked. Now just 24, Wacha will be eyeing his first 200-inning season as the reins should be off entirely. We’ve seen the premium strikeout rate in spurts every year. If he can hold it over a full season, he will be a budding ace, but even if he stays in that mid-7.0s range, he’s still a top-30 arm.
One of the most popular picks in 2014 fantasy drafts, Wacha was limited to just 107 innings in 2014 after dealing with a stress reaction in his right shoulder for much of the summer. Wacha was not impressive in his four September starts after returning form his injury, but prior to hitting the disabled list he looked even better than he did in 2013, posting a 2.79 ERA and 1.12 WHIP while striking out 83 batters in 90.1 innings. Still just 23 years old and with a clean bill of health, Wacha should be in line for another excellent season in 2015, and will likely be available later than he was in 2014 drafts due to injury concerns and recency bias. Wacha will likely slot in as the second or third starter for an improved Cardinals team in 2015.
Wacha didn't receive a full-time shot in the rotation until September and he quickly locked up a spot in the rotation for 2014 by being nearly unhittable while leading the Cardinals into the playoffs and to the World Series. Wacha made things look very easy at times, nearly throwing a no-hitter, and holding opposing hitters to a .198 batting average against him during his five September starts while striking out 28 across 31.1 innings. The 22-year-old will start 2014 near the top of the Cardinals' rotation, likely as the team's No. 2 or No. 3 starter. His ceiling won't be much higher, but his floor is extremely high for a pitcher his age and he should be a very good starting pitcher for years to come.
Things moved fast for Wacha last year. After going in the first round in June, he was with Double-A Springfield by August. The 21-year-old right-hander only pitched 21 innings in the minors last year, but nobody could hit him, as he posted video-game stats of 0.86 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, and an out-of-this-world 40:4 K:BB. He's on the fast track to St. Louis and could be pitching in their bullpen sometime this season. Don't forget him on draft day.
More Fantasy News
Falls to 6-6
PSt. Louis Cardinals
August 15, 2019
Wacha (6-6) took the loss against the Reds on Thursday, giving up two earned runs on five hits over five innings, striking out three and walking two in a 2-1 loss for the Cardinals.
ANALYSIS
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Rejoining rotation Thursday
PSt. Louis Cardinals
August 13, 2019
Wacha will start Thursday's series opener at Cincinnati, Anne Rogers of MLB.com reports.
ANALYSIS
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Likely to rejoin rotation
PSt. Louis Cardinals
August 11, 2019
Wacha will "likely" make a start in this week's series against the Reds, Anne Rogers of MLB.com reports.
ANALYSIS
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Having start skipped
PSt. Louis Cardinals
August 7, 2019
Wacha will be skipped in his next turn through the rotation as Miles Mikolas will start Sunday against the Pirates, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
ANALYSIS
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Hammered for six runs
PSt. Louis Cardinals
August 5, 2019
Wacha (6-5) yielded six runs on seven hits and two walks over 3.2 innings Monday, striking out three batters and taking a loss to the Dodgers.
ANALYSIS
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