Michael Wacha will start for the St. Louis Cardinals at 12:05 p.m. Saturday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, with relief help possibly being provided by Mike Leake.
Wacha (7-7, 4.93 ERA) hasn’t started since Aug. 8. He was then sidelined for a month with a stress reaction in his right scapula, the same injury that slowed him in 2014. Wacha has pitched just three times in September, all in relief, and has allowed 10 runs on 14 hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Wacha’s experience in the postseason was the biggest factor in earning the assignment.
“This is a guy who’s been in these kinds of situations before,” Matheny said. “We don’t take that lightly. And realize, too, that anybody else that you might think would be a good option has a good chance of pitching.”
Saturday would have been Jaime Garcia’s turn, but Garcia lasted a career-low one inning Monday in a 15-2 loss to Cincinnati. He allowed two runs on four hits, including two homers.
Matheny stopped short of calling Saturday an “all-hands-on-deck” game as it relates to the pitching staff. Leake, he said, could be used because it will be his bullpen day, but Leake could probably only provide two to three innings.
Cincinnati on Friday did not file a protest in its 4-3 loss to the Cardinals.
St. Louis won in the ninth inning on Yadier Molina’s double that scored Matt Carpenter from first. Replays, however, showed Molina’s hit bounced over the wall and off the recessed signage board a few feet beyond.
But because the Reds didn’t notify the umpires within 10 seconds after the play was completed, umpires walked off the field and the game ended.
Reds manager Bryan Price caught up with the umpires under the stands, but was told the game was over. Managers must immediately show indication of wanting to challenge game-ending plays.
“In question, why don’t you just step out on that?” Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak said, wondering why Price didn’t automatically ask for a review, even as the Cardinals celebrated on the field.
“I think any time you start to find frustration with a rule because of one incident, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something wrong with it. I can understand the frustration. I get that. But before I respond to, ‘Does this require a rule change?’ I don’t know that answer.”
Some have suggested that all end-of-game plays should be automatically reviewed unless they are obvious.
But for now, that isn’t the rule.
“I went in and watch the replay and saw what the rest of the world saw,” Matheny said. “The first thing I did was ask the video guys to pull up the rule about the game-ending play and the timing. They pulled it up and at that point, I felt it was pretty clear.
“It wasn’t necessarily how we designed it or wanted that game to finish up, play out. But it is what it is.”