MONTREAL -- When Michael Wacha takes to the mound this season, he'll do so with greater confidence and a deeper pool of pitches from which to choose.Making his final start of Spring Training in Monday's 5-3 exhibition win over the Blue Jays at Olympic Stadium, Wacha used what he referred
MONTREAL -- When Michael Wacha takes to the mound this season, he'll do so with greater confidence and a deeper pool of pitches from which to choose.
Making his final start of Spring Training in Monday's 5-3 exhibition win over the Blue Jays at Olympic Stadium, Wacha used what he referred to as a "four-pitch mix" over four scoreless innings, striking out six batters while giving up just one walk and three hits.
"My curveball hasn't been as good as I'd want it to be in the past, but this spring I feel like I've gotten it to where I want to be," Wacha said. "It's a pitch for me now, and the cutter keeps coming along, as well as with the fastball and changeup. I'm feeling good that right now I can throw them at any count."
With Adam Wainwright injured, Wacha gets the bump up to the second spot in the rotation to open the season. He'll start Saturday's game against the Mets and is slated to get the ball for the Cardinals' home opener versus the D-backs next week.
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With a strong spring now behind him, Wacha is ready for the next step.
"Just continuing to learn how to use them and mix them throughout a game will be something, but I'm really happy with the way things are going," Wacha said.
So is his manager.
Mike Matheny noted the quality of Wacha's changeup, pointing out it has "always been a strikeout pitch."
"Any time you add anything else to his pitches, it makes that changeup [even more useful]," Matheny said. "The fastball, he's elevating it as good as I've ever seen him do it."
Matheny has memories of Montreal
Though making his first stop in Montreal as Cardinals manager, Matheny is no stranger to the city. Spending the latter half of his career in the National League, Matheny had regular visits to Montreal as the opponent and remembers it fondly.
"Loved coming here every year," Matheny said. "There were a couple of nice restaurants close to our hotel. Always nice options to eat."
And while the attendance might not have been near what he experienced on Monday night, he remembers Expos fans' enthusiasm and love of their team -- and the quality of talent on those clubs.
"Great, great players. [Vladimir Guerrero], I remember even playing [Henry Rodriguez] here and them throwing Oh Henry! bars on the field, all the candy bars on the field whenever he hit a homer," Matheny said. "Good teams."
Matheny no closer to finding his closer
The mystery of who will be the Cardinals' go-to closer is not any closer to being solved. On Monday night, Dominic Leone was the last to have the ball, following Tyler Lyons.
Matheny said after the game he didn't have a feel for who he might be calling upon when the season starts.
"This is a conversation we've been having for the last 45 days," Matheny said.
Luke Weaver gets the nod for the Cardinals' spring finale versus the Blue Jays tonight at 6:07 CT at Olympic Stadium. Watch for free on MLB.TV.
Heather Engel is a contributor to MLB.com.