Michael Wacha has made two starts in the big leagues after being down with a stress reaction. So should the Cardinals have brought him back? Are they rushing him? What does that mean for this year and what does it mean for the future?
If he's actually healthy it shouldn't affect his future at all. The timing isn't opportune because it precluded him from having a real rehab stint in the minors, but I think we can agree a healthy, effective Michael Wacha instils more confidence than anyone outside of Wainwright, Lynn & (IMHO) John Lackey among the available starters.
The division at this point looks fairly secure. Top seed in the NL is within reach, but the Cardinals are chasing two different teams for it. I don't have a problem with using big-league starts to strengthen the arm and re-establish the command of a guy who has already shown he can go on the road in the playoffs and win an elimination game and can also stare down the best pitcher in all of baseball (twice) in the postseason and come out on top.
I can respect the opinions above but I simply don't think a 60 percent Wacha is good enough right now. A lead of 4.5 games with 18 games left is sound but still, Marco Gonzales is stronger at the moment. He looked really good in Game 2 against the Cubs big bats. Marco isn't in the works for postseason plans so I get why they are pushing Wacha.At the same time, I just don't want it to affect his future health. And don't let the Cards med staff fool you. A stress reaction can come right back and lead to a stress fracture. Just ask Brandon McCarthy about that.
Sunday's start is big. If Wacha shows improved command and an ability to spot his changeup and locate his fastball, then maybe they trek forward. It seemed like a rush job from the get go. One rehab start and then boom, back in the majors. Doing that in a stretch run could be dangerous.
In the end, I worry about his health more than I do anything else, but if he doesn't take big steps forward on Sunday it may be time to shut it down. That would mean he clearly doesn't have it and you don't want Wacha on the postseason roster just to relieve.