Refined mechanics help Wacha bounce back
Right-hander fans seven over seven shutout innings Friday vs. Rockies
ST. LOUIS -- It can be easy to forget just how young Michael Wacha is, his manager, Mike Matheny, said after the 24-year-old right-hander picked up his career-high 12th win in the Cardinals' 7-0 victory over the Rockies at Busch Stadium on Friday night.
Considering that Wacha debuted in the Majors in 2013, made the All-Star team this year and became the second 12-game winner in the National League on Friday, it's not hard to see why he bears the expectations of a proven veteran on his wiry 6-foot-6 frame.
As with every pitcher, however, especially young ones, Wacha's mechanics need occasional refining, and though he said there were still instances when his timing wasn't perfect on Friday, he looked more like the pitcher who won seven of his first nine starts this year.
After posting a 6.88 ERA in his last three starts, Wacha threw seven scoreless innings, allowing just four hits and striking out seven against a Rockies lineup that pounded out 16 hits the night before.
The improvement, Wacha and Matheny agreed, was attributable to better fluidity in Wacha's delivery.
"I felt like I was on time for most of the night and just getting my arm in a good spot to be able to throw the ball down in the zone," Wacha said. "I was working on it in between the starts and felt really good out there."
Wacha threw 70 of his 102 pitches for strikes, which was his highest percentage (69) of strikes over his last four starts.
Carlos Gonzalez ripped a first-inning double, and Wacha allowed singles to lead off the second and third innings, but with a 2-0 cushion that grew to 7-0 in the sixth and solid defense behind him, Wacha bore on for his first seven-inning outing since July 3.
"It looked to me like he was jumpy [in recent starts], and his legs looked strong and his arm didn't know what to do to catch up," Matheny said. "You hear us sometimes saying 'out of sync,' and that's what it is. It looked like he almost had less effort today, even though the velocity was as good, which just means he was very efficient using all of his body.
"That's pretty impressive for a young pitcher."