New York Mets Player Evaluations: Pitcher Michael Wacha

New York Mets, Michael Wacha
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Michael Wacha joined the New York Mets for the 2020 season and was another of Brodie Van Wagenen’s failed starting rotation pieces. Injuries and the inability to limit the long ball hampered the terrible season for Wacha.

Wacha was slotted as a bullpen piece when spring training started but moved into the rotation once the season started. His first start of the season was the only good one he would put together. Wacha allowed one run over five innings against the Boston Red Sox. The Mets sent him to the IL with shoulder inflammation after allowing nine runs in his next two starts.

Return From the Injured List

Nothing changed when Wacha returned three weeks later. Wacha had a 6.75 ERA over his final 20 innings, and batters walloped him for a .636 slugging percentage. The one good outing for Wacha came in a relief appearance where he held the Philadelphia Phillies to one run in four innings.

One of the interesting things about Wacha’s season was his reverse splits. Right-handed hitters batted .346 while lefties hit .275. Most of that was due to his inability to put away right-handers. The changeup was the putaway pitch for lefties, but the cutter did not work as well to finish at-bats. Opposing hitters batted just .228 against the changeup, and it had an outstanding 40.8% whiff rate.

While the changeup was a reliable pitch, the cutter and 4-seam fastball were useless. Batters hit .314 against the cutter and .400 against Wacha’s fastball. This was the same trend from 2019, which caused his home run rate and ERA to elevate. Opposing hitters also had an 8.2% barrel, and solid contact rate, which was also the highest of his career.

Overall, it was brutal to watch any start Wacha made in 2020. He finished the season with a career worse 6.62 ERA, 2.4 HR/9, and had a career-best 9.8 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. Wacha’s sabermetrics cut him some slack as he had a 3.99 SIERA, and his xFIP- is 98. He will not be a Met in 2021, but he does pose promise as a reliever if he wants the opportunity.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

4-Seam Fastball: 20 (35): Not much to say about a pitch that turns hitters into Tony Gwynn.

Changeup: 60 (60): Thrown 29.2% of the time and the only pitch he could rely on. It still has the same movement it had back in 2013.

Cutter: 35 (35): Not a fan of this pitch if it is his only use against righties. Moving it to a slider is a better option to remain a starting pitcher.

Curveball: 30 (40): Only threw seven all season, but a pitch I would recommend him using more against right-handers if Wacha wants to keep the cutter.

Command: 45 (45): Wacha’s command throwing strikes was great, but it was due to the immense about of pitches he threw in the middle.

Overall: 25 (35): Wacha’s worst season in the big leagues but still has the tools to resurrect his career.