Satchel Paige famously waved his fielders into the dugout and proceeded to strike out the side. Paige’s tale may be apocryphal, but Michael Wacha could tell the same story about his performance Wednesday night against the Mets, in which he needed his fielders for only five of the 20 batters he faced.
The Cardinal right-hander struck out an incredible half of the batters he faced (10 of 20), while walking another five. Three of the five Mets who actually made contact with Wacha’s pitches reached safely. This led to some strange game stats on Wacha’s watch:
- Mets’ BABIP: .600
- Mets’ K%: 50%
- Mets’ BB%: 25%
- Wacha’s ERA: 4.50
- Wacha’s FIP: 1.78
And not for one but for two innings — the second and third — Wacha literally did not need his fielders behind him, striking out the side around a walk each inning. Unfortunately for Wacha and the Cardinals, the walks were Wacha’s Waterloo. In the fourth frame, Wacha walked in two runs, giving the Mets the lead they never surrendered.
And after Wacha left, when the Mets did make contact, it was costly, as well. Seth Maness, whose pitch-to-contact tendencies we chronicled earlier this week, threw a pitch that made a lot of contact with Lucas Duda‘s bat, a home run in the sixth inning.
But back to Wacha. His 75% balls-not-in-play percentage is the highest for any pitcher so far this season with a minimum of 20 batters faced:
|Stephen Strasburg||4/10||WSN||MIA||6 2/3||1||12||1||26||1||57.7%|
|Drew Hutchison||4/6||TOR||NYY||3 1/3||3||6||1||20||1||55.0%|
|Collin McHugh||4/22||HOU||SEA||6 2/3||0||12||0||22||0||54.5%|
|Justin Masterson||4/12||CLE||CHW||4 2/3||5||7||1||27||1||51.9%|
|Jake Peavy||4/9||BOS||TEX||6 2/3||4||8||1||26||0||50.0%|
|Shelby Miller||4/20||STL||WSN||5 1/3||5||7||0||26||1||50.0%|
|Hector Santiago||4/20||LAA||DET||5 2/3||5||7||0||24||0||50.0%|
|Hector Santiago||4/8||LAA||SEA||4 1/3||3||6||1||22||1||50.0%|
|Jorge De La Rosa||3/31||COL||MIA||4 1/3||2||6||1||20||1||50.0%|
We’d be willing to bet that it will end up being the highest of the season. As for the Cardinals and the rest of their staff, the team’s defense is running a notch below league-average at the moment. So their best strategy might be to avoid contact as much as possible. With Lance Lynn on the mound today, whose K/9 is second among the club’s starters to only Wacha and whose BB/9 is second to only Shelby Miller, that shouldn’t be a problem.