ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright understands if Cardinal fans believe Michael Wacha is the future.
Even though he finished 19-9 last season with a 2.94 ERA, second in the Cy Young balloting, he knows why there is so much buzz about Wacha.
One of the most promising young arms in baseball, Wacha wowed everyone with his performance late last season. Wacha posted a 2.78 ERA in 15 regular-season games in his rookie season. However, the starter from Texas A&M made five postseason starts for the Cardinals that has everyone excited to see what he can do in 2014.
"Michael, if he does what he did down the stretch and if he does that for a whole season, he's going to be in the Cy Young talks," Wainwright said Saturday at the annual Cardinals Winter Warmup. "I think Michael may be one of the most talented pitchers I've seen. He's a guy who almost threw a no-hitter and then almost threw another no-hitter.
"I'm very, very impressed with his game. I'd like to see it through a whole season."
Wacha came within one out of a no-hitter before allowing an infield single to Washington's Ryan Zimmerman last Sept. 24. His late-season success helped him nab a spot in the Cardinals' postseason starting rotation ahead of fellow rookie and 15-game winner Shelby Miller.
Wacha did not disappoint. In Game 4 of the NLDS against Pittsburgh, Wacha allowed one run on one hit and two walks with nine strikeouts over 7 1-3 innings. He carried a no-hit bid into the eighth inning. Wacha then outdueled Clayton Kershaw in the Cardinals' 1-0 victory in Game 2 of the NLCS. He also bested Kershaw in Game 6. Wacha finished the NLCS with 13 strikeouts in 13 2-3 scoreless innings to earn MVP honors.