When the Red Sox announced back in the winter that they were bringing in veteran pitcher Michael Wacha, not many were excited. It was understandable too why the excitement level for such a move was underwhelming. Signing a 30 year old starter who hasn’t had a decent season in nearly five years doesn’t exactly get the blood pumping.
Up until the 2022 season, Wacha had been on the steady decline. Since his All-Star season in 2015 with the St. Louis Cardinals, Wacha has finished with an ERA of 4.00 or higher every year except for one (3.20 in 2018 with St. Louis). Things hit rock bottom for him in 2020 while with the New York Mets. In just seven starts that season (career low), Wacha finished with a 6.62 ERA in what was by far his worst season as a pro.
He followed up that terrible 2020 season with another mediocre one in 2021 while in Tampa Bay. A 5.05 ERA and a 3-5 Win/Loss record was an improvement, but the bar was considerably low. Wacha looked nothing like the stud he was during his early years with the Cardinals. That guy was seemingly long gone by now.
So when Wacha came to Boston to help fix the starting rotation, it raised concern. Myself included. This was a rotation that need a sure and steady arm. Wacha did not appear to be that kind of weapon. It seemed like a reach on Boston’s part. A desperate attempt to patch up a much more serious problem.
Little did we know, Michael Wacha would turn into a blessing in disguise. Hindsight is always 20/20, as they say.
Wacha has come out the gates scorching hot for Boston so far this season. Not only is this the best he’s looked since 2015, this might be the best he’s looked his entire career. That’s not a bold claim either. Wacha currently possesses a 2.28 ERA on the season, which would be easily the best mark of his career. He is currently top ten in the Majors in ERA.
Wacha also has already gotten 5 wins in 11 starts, which is the 2nd best on the Red Sox behind Nick Pivetta (7). He’s already won more games this season than his last two seasons combined. We are only in June. Even if he falls off a little bit, he’s on track to have one of the best seasons of his career.
It’s Wacha’s continued productivity that has helped Boston’s rise from the gutter. After a horrible start to the year, Boston has turned things around in the month of June. The team now sits in solid standing for the AL Wild Card race. A lot of thanks needs to be thrown Wacha’s way. Without his solid streak of pitching, Boston would be having a pretty hard time battling back. Wacha has bailed out the offense on numerous occasions when it has struggled.
Wacha may not have the most strikeouts or the sexiest game, but he wins. His .833 win percentage is the best on the Sox. He’s just gotten the job done when called upon, and that’s more than I could have ever expected out of him. He’s been incredibly clutch as well. With RISP and 2 outs in the ball game, he’s got a perfect .000 batting average allowed in 16 at bats. The man just simply doesn’t freeze or tense up.
Just take a look at his game logs from his last four games:
- June 17th – 5.1 IP, 6 Hits, 1 Run (W)
- June 11th – 4.1 IP, 8 Hits, 4 Runs (L)
- June 6th – 9.0 IP, 3 Hits, 0 Runs (W)
- May 31st – 5.2 IP, 3 Hits, 1 Run (L)
Pretty solid numbers, and the only reason he lost that May 31st start is because the Sox could only manage to score a single run in a loss to Cincinnati. That complete game shutout on June 6th against the Angels was an absolute treat.
For a guy who was brought in on a 1 year, $7 million dollar deal, he’s been everything we could possibly have asked for. At the time I was puzzled by the move, but that’s why Chaim Bloom builds the team and I simply write about them. Michael Wacha has been such a pleasant surprise, hopefully he will keep this level of play up throughout the remainder of the 2022 season.
Feature photo by Michael Dwyer/AP Photo