Michael Wacha cleared to return Saturday vs. Reds

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As first reported by Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM, the Cardinals have cleared right-hander Michael Wacha to return to the starting rotation this Saturday evening against the visiting Reds.

Wacha missed nearly three months — between June and September — due to a stress reaction in his right shoulder and was shut down again last week with manager Mike Matheny acknowledging that the 23-year-old hasn’t looked quite right since returning.

But a couple of successful bullpen sessions have the Cardinals suddenly feeling optimistic.

Wacha owns an outstanding¬†3.00 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 154 strikeouts in 162 career major league innings and he was a star in last year’s playoffs.

The first-place Cardinals are obviously hoping he can again be an October weapon.

Bowden also reports that John Lackey is scheduled to return to the Cardinals’ rotation Friday after missing his last turn with a mild case of dead arm. Lackey owns a 5.05 ERA in 46 2/3 innings since joining St. Louis.