Cardinals’ Manager Mike Matheny announced on Tuesday that Michael Wacha will return to the Cardinals’ rotation Thursday against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Wacha has been out since a June 17th start in which the hurler went six innings and picked up a win after giving up just one run. Wacha complained of shoulder soreness after the start and the Cardinals’ decided to skip his next start. That soreness has held him out more than two months.
Wacha returns after making just one rehab start, which came Sunday for the Springfield Cardinals. Wacha threw two scoreless innings in his Springfield start and threw 34 pitches while striking out and walking one.
Apparently the 34 pitches were enough to warrant Wacha’s recall to the big league club in the middle of a division race. Wacha returns with the Cardinals in sole possession of first place for the first time this season and the second place Brewers struggling, losing six in a row.
Wacha’s start Thursday comes in place of options Justin Masterson, who’s struggled mightily all season, and rookie Marco Gonzales, who’s coming off of his best start of the season. Wacha will be limited to sixty pitches in the game and it’s quite possible that Gonzales will replace Wacha when that pitch limit is reached.
With the return of Wacha, it will be interesting to see how much and in what situations veteran Justin Masterson will pitch. Wacha, was 5-5 with a 2.79 ERA before his injury, and could be the catalyst for a strong finish by the Cardinals.
With merely thirty games remaining, the Cardinals are hoping to get Wacha back to full health by the beginning of the post season and strengthen their rotation for a long playoff run.