We all remember Eduardo Sanchez from 2011. He struck out 35 in 30 IP. He had an ERA of 1.80 and a WHIP of 1.0. He looked like the closer of the future with the Cards. His stuff was electric right out of the gate. Fast forward to 2012, and it all went wrong for Sanchez. Bothered by shoulder stiffness most of the year, Sanchez struggled to repeat his success from 2011. He was wild and inconsistent, but the injury to his shoulder was the main reason for that. His numbers with the big club were just as bad as they were in Memphis.
I really hate putting much stock into what goes on in Spring Training games, especially early. However, I don’t in any way want to discount performances as if they don’t matter, especially pitchers. So far, and again, it’s early, Sanchez has faced 9 batters in 3 games, struck out 5, and hasn’t allowed a walk or a base hit. He’s only gone to a 3 ball count once. I can see Mike Matheny grinning at the thought of another bullet coming out of his BP. I’ll say it again, you can never have enough pitching.
Michael Wacha is turning the most heads in ST. He is getting praises from everyone on how he seems to pitch like a seasoned veteran. I got a chance to watch the replay of the Cards-Mets game on the MLBN from earlier this week the other night, a game in which Wacha went 3 IP, and he did indeed look like he’s been there before. Of the 10 Mets hitters he faced, he struck out 5. In his 2 appearances, Wacha has a line of 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R (unearned), 0 BB and 8 K’s. His changeup made hitters look really bad, and his fastball was from 91-94 MPH with movement. Wacha’s curveball is said to be a work in progress and his 3rd best pitch, but it looked pretty dominant as well.
Unless the Cards have a few more injuries to the pitching staff, Wacha will likely start at either AA or AAA. He was just drafted last year, but moved all the way to AA by the end of 2012. His line in his first year as a pro from rookie ball to AA was a 0.86 ERA, a .057 WHIP and 40 K’s in 21 IP. Wacha is currently the Cards 5th or 6th best prospect depending on which list you look at, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to take him long to reach the majors. Yadier Molina says that Wacha can pitch in the big leagues right now, and compliments Wacha on his great attitude and mound presence. Matheny says he looks like a 30 year old veteran, and Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling, who did the Mets-Cards game announcing the other day just seemed blown away by Wacha and how deep the Cards farm system is.
From everything being said, I can’t say I’ll be surprised if Wacha makes his debut in St. Louis sometime in 2013 after the ASB. Injuries happen, the only question is where Wacha will rank after ST on the depth chart when you factor in that Carlos Martinez, Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly are ahead of him. The Cards are going to want to monitor the IP of all these youngsters, but it’s safe to say that the pitching staff looks good for years to come. Yes, folks, it is indeed a good time to be a Cards fan.