Michael Wacha
Michael Wacha
27-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.
Strikes out seven in win
PSt. Louis Cardinals
April 17, 2019
Wacha (1-0) allowed two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts and a walk across six innings in a victory against the Brewers on Wednesday.
This was a nice bounce-back performance for the 27-year-old, who yielded seven runs and three homers in his last outing. Wacha only induced seven swinging strikes, but he showcased pinpoint control, earning 15 called strikes. Despite pitching very well twice and throwing a complete dud last time on the mound, this was Wacha's first decision of the year. He is 1-0 with a 4.64 ERA, 1.59 WHIP and 24 strikeouts over 21.1 innings. His next outing will be against the Brewers again at home Tuesday.
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2017
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2017vs Left .239 536 111 54 113 25 2 11
Since 2017vs Right .263 616 142 51 145 25 2 20
2019vs Left .241 36 10 7 7 3 1 1
2019vs Right .255 60 14 7 13 3 0 4
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
ERA at Home
ERA on Road
ERA at Home
ERA at Home
Since 2017Home 3.56 1.29 151.2 13 5 0 8.5 3.3 0.8
Since 2017Away 4.29 1.40 119.2 8 6 0 8.3 3.8 1.3
2019Home 7.71 2.14 9.1 0 0 0 9.6 8.7 2.9
2019Away 2.25 1.17 12.0 1 0 0 10.5 3.8 1.5
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.
92.6 mph
Strand %
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Recent RotoWire Articles Featuring Michael Wacha
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10 days ago
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15 days ago
Todd Zola has last year's AL Cy Young nominees atop this week's pitcher rankings, including Tampa Bay's Blake Snell, who's velocity was up in his second start.
Past Fantasy Outlooks
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
Struggles in short outing
PSt. Louis Cardinals
April 11, 2019
Wacha surrendered seven runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out three over 3.2 innings Thursday against the Dodgers. He didn't factor into the decision.
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Robbed of first win
PSt. Louis Cardinals
March 31, 2019
Wacha allowed one run on four hits and four walks and struck out seven over six innings Sunday against Milwaukee. He didn't factor into the decision.
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Cruises through five scoreless
PSt. Louis Cardinals
March 14, 2019
Wacha allowed five hits and two walks and struck out two in five scoreless innings Thursday against the Mets.
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Bitten by home-run ball
PSt. Louis Cardinals
March 8, 2019
Wacha surrendered two runs on six hits and struck out two over four innings Friday against Washington.
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No drama on deadline day
PSt. Louis Cardinals
January 11, 2019
Wacha agreed to a one-year, $6.35 million deal with the Cardinals, avoiding arbitration, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports.
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