Forget Adam Wainwright, Carlos Beltran and anyone else on the St. Louis Cardinals—this team's fate rests in the balance of Michael Wacha. Not only will he will step up, but he will beat the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night and force a Game 7 in the 2013 World Series.
It's been a wild series between these two teams. So far, the World Series has featured a blowout, a costly error, a walk-off interference call and a game-ending pickoff to first base.
At 22 years old, it will be up to Wacha to keep the Cardinals alive and force Game 7, and he shouldn't have a problem with that based off of what we've seen from him so far.
This postseason, Wacha has exploded onto the scene. In his four starts during the playoffs, Wacha has gone 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 28 strikeouts and just 11 hits allowed in 27 innings of work.
It all started in Pittsburgh, when Wacha made his first postseason start against the Pirates. He was so dominant that he had a no-hitter going into the eighth inning before allowing a home run to Pedro Alvarez.
In the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Wacha grabbed another two wins while not allowing a single run in his two starts, earning the NLCS MVP award.
Wacha was then able to get yet another win in Game 2 of the World Series. He lasted six innings, allowing just three hits and two runs while striking out six batters.
The reason that Wacha will be so dominant is that the Red Sox don't have much to work with when studying him before the game. He's played in 19 total games in the regular season and playoffs with just 91.2 career innings pitched in the majors, and he's now only pitched six innings against Boston batters.
While he doesn't have a bunch of deadly pitches, Wacha has a terrific fastball and changeup. He does such a good job establishing his fastball and then mixing pitches and speed to make hitters look silly.
|Wacha's Pitch Frequency and Velocity|
|FanGraphs.com / PITCHf/x|
With that ability to mix pitches and change speeds, he does a good job at getting opposing batters to miss on that changeup. In fact, that changeup is his clear go-to strikeout pitch, as he has three more strikeouts with it than his fastball despite throwing it more than 500 fewer times.
|Wacha's Pitch Results and Averages|
Everyone will want to say that Wacha needs to watch out for David Ortiz, and that's fair. However, the rest of the Red Sox are hitting just .151 while Ortiz is hitting .733. As a team, the Red Sox have scored 21 runs, and Ortiz has driven in six of them.
As long as Wacha keeps pitching like he has been, keeps using that great changeup with his fastball and pitches around Ortiz, he should be able to limit the Red Sox and put the Cardinals in great position to win.
We are in the presence of a true phenom in Wacha, and he will be fantastic once again on Wednesday.