Michael Wacha is on his way to journeyman status, as the starting pitcher is now on his fourth team in as many seasons. a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox on Saturday. The interesting aspect is not his effect on Boston’s starting rotation, but rather that he plays in the park, where his most notable run ended.
Wacha’s post-season in 2013 – where he won the NLCS MVP and helped lead the Cardinals to the World Series, including winning one of his two starts against the Red Sox – would have made you guess he would be the heir to it almost ended the Adam Wainwright era, and not someone who could never quite get it right.
His 2014 season started as promising before he was injured, a recurring theme in his career, and 2014, like 2013, ended in large part due to his pitching. He was the loser of the championship clincher against Boston in 2013 and gave up a series end, walkoff homer to Travis Ishikawa in relief in the NLCS the following year.
His only All-Star season, 2015, featured another downturn after the season, this time against rival Cubs. It was not as dramatic as the previous two years, but considering he went 17-7 and still could not get a W when it came, one kind of knew that 2013 was an aberration. It could have been intimacy or injury that trapped Wacha, but whatever it was, he has never been the same.
Since then, he has fluctuated between effective and injured in the regular season and remained beyond appalling in the off-season. He has not won a playoff game since 2013 and lost last season as a Ray to the team that has just signed him, in addition to the walkoff against the Giants in 2014 and the Cubs in 2015.
I’m not sure Red Sox fans will welcome a pitcher, they’ve been on the better end of two out of three times when it matters, but who knows? Maybe they forgot his 2 2/3 innings of nine-hit, six-run ball in ALDS a season ago and are totally cool with that. No story that fanbase has bias.
What If is strong with Wacha, as it is with so many post-season phenomena. Former Cardinal postseason hero David Freese, who actually finished his race with a World Series title, never reached that climax – or struck like that – again. I do not want to make too much out of a guy who had a 5.05 ERA last time and went 5-6, so I do not want that.
I doubt he will make any significant contributions, but it would be poetic for him to have a great moment as a salt-and-pepper veteran on a team he met as a rookie in the World Series nearly ten years ago. It could happen. Boston stays in the off-season, and October heroes come in all guises and ages.
Or he could fail, in which case it would be extremely cruel and probably more likely.