JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals aren't setting any limits for young pitcher Michael Wacha.
"I don't see any reason why there is the buzz about the workload," St. Louis pitching coach Derek Lilliquist said. "He had 170 innings last year. You can think he could be a 200-inning guy this year. At the end of the day we need some guys who can give us 200 innings."
Wacha's readiness became more important this weekend, when the Cardinals announced that Jaime Garcia had returned to St. Louis to have his surgically repaired shoulder examined. Last season, only Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn eclipsed the 200-inning mark for the Cardinals.
Shelby Miller exceeded 170 innings as a rookie, but that prompted the Cardinals to slow him down. Miller was moved to the bullpen for the postseason, opening the door for Wacha to join the rotation.
The 22-year-old Wacha exceeded Miller's innings total last season when minor league action is factored into the total. He threw nearly 100 innings in the major leagues, with 30 2-3 occurring during postseason play.
His breakout came in the postseason where went 4-1 with a 2.64 ERA and 33 strikeouts.
"It was a lot of fun, that's for sure, being on that kind of stage and performing the way we all did," Wacha said. "Those expectations are going to be set pretty high after the season we all just had. I just try not to listen too much and set my own expectations and try to achieve those."
The Cardinals' front office is trying to temper those expectations, too, but coaches say Wacha looks like the same pitcher they saw in the postseason.
"We always try to manage expectations in general," general manager John Mozeliak said. "There's no doubt when you see something like that happen it's easy to gravitate to higher thoughts or higher expectations."