PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - FEBRUARY 27: ARY 27: Michael Wacha #74 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the New York Mets at Tradition Field on February 27, 2013 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) By Chris Trotman
(KMOV) -- The Cardinals have called up Michael Wacha from Triple-A Memphis to start on Thursday night against Kansas City.
Wacha is the most highly touted young pitcher for the Cardinals since Rick Ankiel's arrival in 1999. Ankiel was called up at age 19, and had a regular spot in the starting rotation the following year in 2000.
We all know that turned out. Ankiel had a meltdown in the 2000 postseason and never came close to reaching his potential as a pitcher.
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak wants to avoid another scene that like with Wacha. Mozeliak is actively trying to lower expectations for his 21-year-old righthander.
"The key thing is, from my perspective, is we just have to manage expectations a little bit," Mozeliak said. "He's a year removed from college, and he's been put into a very competitive division with, I think, a lot of expectations being put on him and I don't know how fair that's going to be, and so I just think people need to be patient."
The Cardinals were hoping to avoid calling up Wacha this soon, both to delay the start of his major league clock and to allow him to gain more experience in the minor leagues. But with the recent injuries to Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook and John Gast, they ran out of arms and options.
"In an ideal world we would not have to go down this patch," Mozeliak said. "Due to all the injuries we do need some help, and he has certainly been out best pitcher ande starter in Triple-A."