While Michael 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.
Wacha agreed to a one-year contract with the Cardinals on Friday, avoiding arbitration. Wacha put together a fine 2017, but he lost effectiveness later in his outings, posting a 6.25 ERA the second time through the order and a 5.66 mark the third time through. He will still have appeal as a mid-rotation fantasy arm in 2018 given the team context.
Wacha (12-9) took the loss against the Cubs on Wednesday, giving up five runs on seven hits and a walk over six-plus innings while striking out eight. He held the Cubs scoreless through six innings, but the wheels came off in a hurry in the seventh as Wacha allowed the first six batters he faced in the frame to reach base before hitting the showers. The 26-year-old will finish the year with a 4.13 ERA, a marked improvement on 2016 but still a far cry from the 3.38 mark he posted the year before.
Wacha (12-8) allowed two runs on three hits and one walk while striking out four across five innings, but received no decision Friday against the Pirates. Wacha held the Pirates scoreless the first time through the lineup, but allowed a pair of runs in the fourth inning that erased a 2-0 lead he was given, and as a result he was unable to earn his 13th victory of the season. He's held opponents to three or fewer earned runs in each of his last five starts, and he's been an adequate fantasy option down the stretch. He'll make his next start Wednesday against the Cubs.
Wacha (12-7) pitched eight scoreless inning with seven strikeouts during Sunday's win Pittsburgh. After posting a discouraging 6.04 ERA through six August games, Wacha has now won consecutive September starts. His 3.99 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and 8.4 K/9 are respectable fantasy numbers, but the 26-year-old righty also sports a 3.68 FIP, so he's likely outpitched his stat line. Wacha lines up to make his next start against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Wacha (11-7) allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits and three walks while striking out six over six innings to pick up the win in Tuesday's game against the Padres. Wacha allowed four runs -- including a mammoth two-run blast to opposing pitcher Travis Wood -- in the opening two innings Tuesday, but settled down and breezed through the next four frames en route to his second consecutive quality start. The righty posted an ugly 6.04 ERA over his six August starts, but will look to finish the season on a stronger note. He's scheduled to take on the Pirates on Sunday.