Cardinals Pitchers are Showing Signs of Strengthening their Weaknesses

MichaelWacha

Michael Wacha has already made his mark in Cardinals’ history along with essentially still being a prospect who has a bright future ahead of him. One of his limitations that is often times repeated is his lack of pitches. He has gotten a lot of mileage out of changing speeds, but sooner or later he needs to develop another strong pitch.

Last year he attempted to develop a cut fastball, or cutter, with minimal success. But this Spring Training, he has seemed to improve on the pitch and may start the season with essentially a plus cutter.

According to MLB.com

What began mostly as experimentation in 2013 just might turn out to be the latest weapon in Michael Wacha’s growing arsenal of pitches.

As command of Wacha’s fastball, changeup and curveball come along this spring, so, too, is a cutter, a pitch that Wacha threw about a half dozen times in his 73-pitch start on Friday. Three weeks ago, Wacha was trying to find an ideal grip on the pitch. Now, he’s getting outs off it.

Wacha later added

“The confidence level has definitely increased from throwing it in bullpens, throwing it warming up and then throwing it in these games for sure,” Wacha said. “I can catch them off guard with a different pitch.”

At the same time, Adam Wainwright has been improving the command on his breaking balls with impeccable results. According to MLB.com again

Each Spring Training start, Cardinals righty Adam Wainwright works on a different element of his repertoire in preparation for Opening Day.

The focus of his third spring start, in which he allowed three runs on seven hits with two strikeouts and no walks over 4 1/3 innings, was command of his breaking ball.

“I only threw one, maybe two for balls. Most of them were strikes,” said Wainwright, who threw 74 pitches (48 strikes). “The second one, I threw a curveball [that] was in the dirt on purpose because we were up 0-2. I only threw one out of the strike zone on accident.”

And while both pitchers are working on new pitches, reliever and possible closer Jason Motte is simply working on his velocity. After missing last season with Tommy John Surgery, Motte is expected to make a full recovery this year.

Not being the starter that Wacha and Wainwright are, he is allowed to have a more limited arsenal of pitches. But he also very much needs the velocity in place.

After throwing several bullpen sessions, Motte finally saw his first live BP on Friday.

“It feels good,” Motte said. “[It’s] definitely more than throwing a bullpen. It’s like actually doing baseball stuff. … It’s a big step. It’s not just throwing a bullpen anymore, it’s actually going out there facing hitters knowing those guys are going to be swinging and actually try to do stuff. It’s not just throwing balls in there. It was more intensity, more adrenaline than a bullpen, and I recovered well. Taking another step forward.”

And though it hasn’t been reported exactly what the velocity has been, Motte makes it sound quite promising.

The 31-year-old doesn’t know what his velocity has been so far, but he said both of his pitches have felt good. They haven’t been ramped up to full throttle yet.

So all three pitchers have different objectives – Wacha with the new pitch; Waino with tightening the command; Motte regaining the power behind his fastball. But all three achieving their disparate goals shows even further promise for the Cardinals slated power rotations and bullpen next year.

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