Michael Wacha is gathering dust as the Cardinals’ forgotten man

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Last postseason Shelby Miller was the young, high-upside pitcher ignored by the Cardinals in the playoffs, but this time around it’s Michael Wacha.

Wacha thrived in last year’s postseason as a rookie and was great again this season until shoulder problems sidelined him in mid-June. He returned in September to make four starts, but struggled and has not appeared in a game this postseason despite being on the roster.

So what role is he filling, exactly? Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that Wacha is serving as the “extra-inning reliever.” In other words, if the game goes crazy long and the Cardinals run out of pitchers they trust, they’d toss Wacha out there to go as long as he can.

Goold reports that Wacha has told Matheny he’s capable of pitching in a normal relief role, multiple days at a time, but “with each day he’s not used the team becomes less likely to use him because he’s gathered rust.”

He hasn’t pitched in a game since September 26.

Nelson Cruz hits 400th career home run

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Twins DH Nelson Cruz hit his 400th career home run, a solo home run in the fourth inning of Sunday’s game against the Royals. The blast padded the Twins’ lead to 8-6, and was also No. 40 on the season for Cruz.

Cruz, 39, is the 57th member of the 400-homer club. He was previously tied with Andres Galarraga and Al Kaline at 399. Cruz has hit 163 of his homers with the Mariners, 157 with the Rangers, and 40 each with the Orioles and Twins.

Cruz entered Sunday batting .300/.383/.624 with 104 RBI in 500 plate appearances. Pretty good production for the Twins from a slugger on a one-year, $14.3 million contract. The Twins hold a $12 million club option for 2020 as well.