St. Louis Cardinals

Wacha to skip a start as Cardinals implement maintenance plan

Michael Wacha will skip his scheduled start at 3:05 p.m. Saturday against the Chicago Cubs, part of the St. Louis Cardinals’ maintenance plan for their oft-injured right-hander.

“It’s always been something that we thought was important to try to bake in some rest, and at the quarter turn, I just think it makes sense to do that,” Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak said. “Obviously, having the off days that we have will allow you to do it.

“Now, we might not be afforded that opportunity again until the All-Star break. If you’re always kicking the can down the road, you can end up being like, ‘Uh, oh. It’s too late.’ So I think anything you can bank now is smart.”

Carlos Martinez will pitch in Wacha’s spot on regular rest, thanks to the off day Thursday. Wacha’s next start will be Wednesday against the Boston Red Sox.

Wacha (2-1, 3.19 ERA) has missed significant time in two of the last three years with a stress reaction in his shoulder. He is feeling strong after six starts this season, all of which have been for at least six innings. The Cardinals want to keep Wacha strong.

“I guess they’re taking the precautionary measures of skipping a start,” Wacha said. “I’m going to use this time to get stronger, get more recovered and get ready for the next one.”

Wacha said the shoulder “feels really strong.”

“I’m real happy with the way everything’s been feeling,” he said.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said the timing is perfect for Wacha’s brief shutdown.

“We’ve been watching and realizing this is one of those good spots where he’s going to miss a start,” Matheny said. “It will still be an extended amount of rest that hopefully pays off in the end. ... It’s something we talked about early on and now it’s put into action.”

Matheny said the Cardinals can ill afford to lose Wacha late in August or September.

“His health has not been where it needs to be late in the year,” Matheny said. “We’ve tried everything we can, and he’s done a great job to put himself in position. Right now, it looks great. How do we keep it there? If we just say, ‘OK,’ and keep doing the same thing and expect it to be looking a little different, I don’t think that’s very wise.” 

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm