Saturday, October 19, 2013

Cardinals “Wacha” into World Series

Michael Wacha was not part of the St. Louis Cardinals original equation for their 2013 rotation. But, injuries opened the door and now the 22-year-old rookie should be a mainstay in the rotation for years to come.

Wacha’s incredible run continued Friday night as he tossed seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball propelling the Cardinals to a 9-0 pummeling of the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the National League Championship Series, 4-2. It is the Cardinals 19th World Series appearance, tying them for the most National League pennants with the San Francisco Giants.

The Cardinals dismantled Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw, tallying seven runs on 10 hits off the southpaw in just four innings. Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran, who will be making his first World Series appearance, led the 13-hit attack with three hits and two RBIs.

While the Cardinals are happy to have found some life in their bats, especially against such a quality pitcher, this game, series and postseason run has been about Wacha's brilliant performances. He’s become known to more than just Cardinals fans and landed into the national spotlight.

Wacha was the easy choice for NLCS MVP, grabbing two wins and delivering 13.2 innings of shutout baseball. He allowed just seven hits and three walks (one intentional) while racking up 13 strikeouts against a talented Dodgers offense.

Since Wacha’s last regular season start against the Washington Nationals, when he came within one out of a no-hitter, he has gone on an amazing run. In 29.2 innings across four starts, he has given up only one run and nine hits. He has now won the clinching game in both of St. Louis’ playoff series.

The Cardinals will now be able to set their rotation whichever way they’d like with four days off until the World Series begins on Oct. 23. Anticipate Adam Wainwright to get Game 1 honors and Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny to tab Wacha for the Game 2 start.

Can Wacha keep this up into the World Series? The Cardinals hope so and right now I wouldn't bet against it.

Photo courtesy of Brad Tutterow via Flickr

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo. Besides his work here, Chris is a New York Yankees contributor for Yahoo Sports. Connect with Chris on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.