Is it a Sports Illustrated cover jinx? Is it just plain bad luck? Once again the Cardinals feel more like a MASH unit than a baseball team as injuries mount. Jaime Garcia down for the year after labrum and rotator cuff surgery, Jake Westbrook is headed to visit Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion, and rookie starter John Gast (who replaced Westbrook in the rotation) left Saturday’s game in the second inning with shoulder tightness.
It appears now that Michael Wacha is being targeted as the potential call to replace Gast in the rotation, being pulled from his turn in the rotation tonight with Memphis. That’s given people plenty to talk about. But for now, Michael Blazek has received the call to be an extra arm in the Cardinals’ bullpen until the decision is made who should take Gast’s next turn in the rotation on Thursday against the Royals.
There are definite pros to bringing Wacha up. The 19th selection in last season’s MLB Draft, Wacha impressed in spring training. He has also been solid in Memphis posting a 2.05 ERA over 53 innings and 9 starts while allowing fewer than a baserunner per inning.
Is he ready? Probably not. And that’s the big con. The giant elephant in the room no one wants to talk about.
I’m sure there are people out there who have been saying he would get the call to the major leagues will brag that they were right. And that those who said he wouldn’t are wrong. Ignoring that John Mozeliak has indicated that Wacha’s innings load is a concern for them when they consider bringing him up, which is the point I make.
But what should happen and what does happen aren’t necessarily the same thing.
Wacha hasn’t even thrown 100 professional innings in his career. It’s hard for me to see a situation where he’s effective for the Cardinals much past June. Take Mike Leake as an example. Leake skipped the minors, making the Reds’ rotation out of spring training in 2010. Leake started his career 5-0 with a 2.22 ERA over his first 11 starts. His next 11 that season? 3-4 with a 5.60 ERA.
This is not an ideal situation. Were it ideal, Wacha wouldn’t even be in discussion for a shot at the major leagues this season. If he does get the call, I expect him to be up for a few starts and then back down to the minors, regardless of performance. The last thing the Cardinals should do is push Wacha this year and put his future in jeopardy. Unfortunately we need him now. But they should be planning to find a way to get him back to Memphis where they can limit him better.