Last year's NLCS MVP, second-year Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha, has encountered a setback in his return from the shoulder injury that sidelined him for the past two months. He will miss his scheduled start against the Rockies on Sunday.
The move appears to be a mix of precaution and a need to allow Wacha to ease back into the rotation, rather than a serious long-term issue with Wacha's recovery. According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Wacha's manager Mike Matheny said it was an issue with mechanics, "not a shut down," and there are no MRIs planned. Matheny told the Associated Press he believes it simply "doesn't feel quite right, we're asking a guy to come into a September situation when we're in the hunt and expect a guy to be sharp with all of his pitches."
It was a decision the team and Wacha came to together, adhering to a previously agreed upon plan for his rehabilitation. As Matheny told the AP, "He wasn't necessarily overly excited about how the ball was coming out of his hand. So what do you do? You stick to the original plan, and we just stopped."
Wacha had slipped slightly from his solid rookie campaign before going down in the middle of June with a stress reaction in his right shoulder, but he still has a 3.14 ERA and strong strikeout-to-walk ratio. He will be replaced by rookie left-hander Marco Gonzalez, who threw long relief for Wacha the two starts he had after coming back.