Wacha's changeup presents problem for Pirates
This spring, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny called Michael Wacha's changeup the best in the organization. Wacha was nine months removed from pitching at Texas A&M.
Wacha, the Cardinals' starter Monday for Game 4 of the National League Division Series, throws a traditional circle changeup, but pitching coach Derek Lilliquist said the pitch has so much late fade that it resembles a screwball.
This is a major problem for the Pirates, who are the worst changeup-hitting team in baseball, according to the Baseball Info Solutions statistic “changeup runs above average.”
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Wacha's mid-90s fastball makes his changeup difficult to hit.
“When you can throw 98 with your hands up top … and (the changeup) looks like it's that fastball, but then it turns out to be that changeup and one that bottoms out, it's a really tough combination to handle,” Hurdle said. “That (near) no-hitter game, he threw (Ryan) Zimmerman four straight changeups right-on-right. You have to have a very good changeup to do that.”
That doesn't bode well for Pirates such as Pedro Alvarez and Starling Marte, who respectively own 45 percent and 43 percent swinging strike rates on off-speed pitches this season.
Wacha said Texas A&M coach Rob Childress helped him develop the pitch.
“I've always had it ever since I was high school. I just kind of refined it in college with my pitching coach,” Wacha said. “I guess the velocity separation makes it so (effective).”
Wacha, a 2012 first-round compensation pick for the Angels signing Albert Pujols, is 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA as a rookie. He is striking out 9.1 batters per nine innings.
Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.