While it was impressive that Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha came within inches of a no-hitter Tuesday night against the Washington Nationals, that's not the really exciting thing about his performance.
What knocks my socks off is the fact that Wacha nearly pulled off one of Major League Baseball's most respected individual achievements with what amounts to one arm tied behind his back.
When the Cardinals drafted Wacha one of his strongest draws was that he was a four-pitch hurler with an excellent fastball and change-up and a plus curveball and slider, batters had no idea what was coming at any given time. But Wacha started to focus after turning professional on the fastball change and curve. And, for whatever reason this season, he has almost completely abandoned to curve ball and slider.
In his 8 2/3 innings of one-hit baseball Tuesday, Wacha only threw three or four curves and I don't recall any sliders. Essentially batters had a 50-50 guess if the pitch was a going to be a fastball or change. And they STILL couldn't make solid contact.
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I assume that Wacha has lost confidence in the curve for one reason or another. (The slider has been something of an occasional pitch for him when he needed another wrinkle.) Or that he's backed off of throwing it to simplify things while he tries to get his feet beneath him at the MLB level. But it's likely that it's going to reappear at some point since it has been a pretty good pitch for him in the past. And if Wacha can add another weapon to an already impressive arsenal, he has a chance to be even more dominant in the future.