According to Mike Matheny, the move is nothing more than a chance to rest a young starter.
“Just like we’ve said from the beginning, we’re going to give him time- we’re going to have to- through this season,” he said of Wacha. “This will be one of those.”
How good has St. Louis pitching been? Better than you think.
Last season, at almost this exact time, the club made the same move to protect the former Aggie.
After making his start on June 11, 2013 for the Cardinals, he was optioned back to AAA. There he made a start on the 18, before being resting until July 2.
With so many notable rising starters falling to arm injuries across the league, the Cardinals have taken extra care to not overuse the 22-year-old. After his start in Tampa Bay, the staff noticed what looked like signs of fatigue, so they began to make a plan.
“I think he was a little tired that start before last, which kind of put up our antenna that this might be a good time,” Matheny said. “Carlos gets built up, it’s an easy stay away for us.”
Martinez started Monday in place of Adam Wainwright, who took a start off in hopes of alleviating lingering tendonitis in his elbow. He went four innings on 59 pitches, striking out three while allowing two hits and an unearned run.
Wacha was told Thursday morning that he’s be given Sunday off, something he didn’t seem surprised to hear.
“There’s definitely been time over the last couple starts where maybe I was getting a little tired,” he said. “Obviously I want to be out there every fifth day, but we’ve got Carlos in a situation where he’s able to fill in. He’s already stretched out a little bit so I guess it’s that time.”
His next start would be scheduled for Friday, June 27 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. He would have three more scheduled starts following that before the All Star break, facing the Giants, Pirates and Brewers. He would get an extra day of rest if he stayed on that schedule, as play wouldn’t resume until Friday the 18th of July.
Still, with a stable of young starters, combined with several more start-capable pitchers in the wings, the organization will do everything they can to protect their assets. If that means sitting Wacha once in awhile to insulate him from fatigue-based damage, then so be it.
“I doubt it’s the last time,” Matheny said. “We’ll be looking to get him time again, that’s how we went into this thing.”
While Wacha is the primary focus for the starters, the skipper said he wouldn’t be opposed to getting other hurlers rest. While Shelby Miller would be the next logical target, Matheny said the 23-year-old has more experience with the innings load and has been built up to manage the fatigue of an MLB schedule.
Wacha said he will likely throw two bullpen sessions before his next start.