Wacha aims to keep momentum going as Cardinals meet Cubs
(AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha doesn't have many good memories pitching against the Chicago Cubs.
He'll try to add some when he takes the mound on Saturday afternoon in Chicago.
Wacha is 4-8 in his career against the Cubs with a 6.65 ERA.
In his most recent outing against Chicago on June 15, he was attempting to become the first Cardinals pitcher since 2009 to win nine straight decisions, but instead Wacha allowed a career-high nine runs (eight earned) in four innings, and tied his career high by giving up three home runs in the 13-5 loss.
Wacha would leave his next start with a left oblique strain, which ended up costing him the rest of the season.
Wacha (2-0, 4.78 ERA) did not earn a decision in his first three outings this season, but has won his past two, which were sandwiched around a 10-day stay on the injured list because of patellar tendinitis in his left knee.
He most recently went five innings at the Washington Nationals on Monday, allowing three runs and four hits, striking out five and walking three in the 6-3 win.
"What a tremendous competitor," Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said of Wacha. "Don't want to ride him, but he's a workhorse."
His struggles against the Cubs are in stark contrast to the success he's had against the other NL Central teams. He owns a combined record of 23-4 and an ERA of 3.35 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers.
Wacha has also allowed 20 home runs against Chicago. The Brewers have the next most off him with nine.
Anthony Rizzo has been particularly hot against Wacha in his career. The Cubs first baseman is 20-for-42 with three home runs. Rizzo hit a three-run homer in the 4-0 win against the Cardinals in the series opener on Friday afternoon.
The Cubs, who have won five in a row, including the past two by shut out, will send right-hander Yu Darvish to the mound.
Darvish (2-3, 5.02 ERA) seems to be finding his groove following the best performance of the season in his last start Saturday. He allowed one run and two hits in six innings of a 9-1 win at the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Cardinals are one of two teams Darvish has never faced in his seven seasons in the majors.
After a disappointing performance in the 2017 playoffs with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Darvish signed a six-year, $126 million contract with the Cubs in February of 2018, but injuries limited the four-time AL All-Star to just eight appearances last season.
Darvish hadn't made it through the sixth inning in any of his first five starts this season. The low point came in his season opener, when he walked seven batters in 2 2/3 innings of an 8-6 loss at the Texas Rangers, where he made his four All-Star teams.
Although Darvish is still struggling with his accuracy -- walking at least four batters in four of six games -- his 110-pitch effort last weekend was a welcome sign.
"When he gets going, you may see some of his better work between 90 and 110 (pitches)," Chicago manager Joe Maddon told reporters after the win in Arizona. "Moving down the road, when he gets on a roll, I want to stay out of his way."
--Field Level Media
Updated May 4, 2019