There are still quite a few hurdles to leap over, but Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha looks to be progressing toward a mid-to-late September return.
According to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Wacha threw a 30-pitch bullpen session on Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium, mixing in four or five changeups to a mostly fastball-focused workout. It was Wacha’s first time throwing off a mound since he was shut down in late June because of a stress reaction in his right shoulder.
“It felt good to get back out there on the mound,” the 23-year-old told reporters. “Arm felt great. It was 30 pitches. Pretty light throws but I’m happy with it.”
Wacha, a first-round pick in 2012, owns an outstanding 2.79 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 8.6 K/9 in 155 innings since making his major league debut in mid-2013. He won MVP honors in last year’s NLCS at the age of 22.
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.
Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”
On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”
Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.
Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.