The “W” boys – Michael Wacha and Luke Weaver – will be key figures in the pitching staff this season for the St. Louis Cardinals.
The 6-foot-6, 215-pound Wacha, 26, enters this season as the Cardinals No. 2 starter. Last season, he went 12-9 with a 4.13 ERA. He threw 165 2/3 innings, his most since he threw 181 1/3 in 2015.
“I was confident going into last season,” Wacha said. “I had a full season where I felt strong and made all my starts. That adds to the confidence going into this season. I can’t ask for much more. I’ve been getting a lot of good workouts in. I’m ready for 2018.”
The key for Wacha was, and is, remaining healthy.
“My goals for this season are to be healthy again and make as many starts as I can,” Wacha said. He would like to be a pitcher who can go deep into games. If he can do that, he can reach 200 innings in a season. But Wacha is not going to put any numbers out there for himself.
“I’m trying to go out there and go as long as I can,” Wacha said. “I’m just trying to do the best I can and make all the starts I can and go as deep into a game as I can and be as effective as possible. Try not to wear out the bullpen too much.”
He said there are several ways to be able to pitch seven or eight innings or even have a complete game. “Attacking the strike zone more often, getting early outs, there’s a lot of different ways to go deeper into a game. It’s a tough job. I’m working on it.”
The same goes for Weaver. He would like to log more innings.
Weaver, 24, went 7-2 as a rookie in 2017 and impressed many with his ability. He posted a 3.88 ERA and 72/17 K/BB ratio in 60 1/3 innings over 10 starts and three relief appearances in the majors last season.
“Yeah, there’s a lot to build off that,” Weaver said. “Even in the bad outings, just knowing how to take that after some good ones and just jumping back on that horse and keep going. There’s a lot to learn from last year.”
There’s going to be more of Weaver to like this season, too. He went into spring training weighing 184 pounds.
“The coaches wanted me to put on some pounds,” Weaver said. “It doesn’t come very easy for me [but] I’ve been able to gain 10 to 15 pounds. Hopefully, that will add some durability and some endurance. Who knows? I feel like I’m in the best shape ever. I’m stronger and quicker. As a whole, I’m excited.”
Gaining weight can be tough for a slim person. Weaver sought help to achieve his goal. Now, he’s in the weight room trying to stay strong.
He has never thrown more than 138 innings in a season before, but he’ll be facing some big expectations in his first full season in the Cardinals rotation. But his expectations are the same. “I don’t ever want to get complacent,” Weaver said. “I just want to go in with a lot of confidence and know I still have to make an impact on the coaches and let them know they’ve made a good choice to have me in there.”
Wacha wants to put all he has learned into the upcoming season.
“The knowledge of the game and my repertoire, I would definitely say I’m a better pitcher now,” Wacha said. “I know more about the game. I know more about hitters’ tendencies. I have so much more knowledge. I’d definitely say I’m a better pitcher now.”