I wrote about Michael Wacha back during Spring Training, and at the time I thought that the Cardinals were unlikely to bring him up until 2014 given his lack of innings and the logjam that is the Cardinals' starting rotation:
Given the glut of starting pitching in front of him, both at the Major and Minor league levels, it seems unlikely he would debut during the 2013 season. However, he appears to be very close to major league ready despite the lack of innings, and could definitely be used in a pinch if needed. That said, he is not on the 40-man roster, and I don't think they call him up unless they have no other options available, so as not to burn any service time or options for a spot start. I would be surprised if he wasn't up during the 2014 season.
Well, that theory was based on a rotation that included Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Lance Lynn, Jake Westbrook, and Shelby Miller. However, injuries have continue to decimate the pitching staff, as Garcia is out for the season due to shoulder surgery and Westbrook is currently on the disabled list with an elbow injury. Even previous replacement John Gast isn't safe, as he was placed on the disabled list over the weekend as well. The team has resorted to using players like Tyler Lyons in the rotation, despite having Wacha available in the minors. That said, has Wacha shown a reason to start his clock and bring him up if there are other options which may work better before him?
The biggest knock I found on Wacha before he started the season was that the Cardinals had not allowed him to pitch more than three innings in a start, and as a result we did not know exactly how he would fare on his second and third times through the lineup. The Cards clearly weren't that worried about it, sending him to AAA Memphis to start the year. So far, the results have been good. Wacha has made nine starts this year, pitching at least 5 innings in all but the first one, and getting through at least six innings in five of the nine starts. He has 34 strikeouts against 15 walks in 52 2/3 innings pitched, and an excellent 35 hits allowed. He has clearly been pitching deeper into games,
The Cardinals sent reliever Carlos Martinez back to AAA Memphis rather than keeping him in the bullpen, which leads me to wonder if he will be stretched back out with the plan of having him start should the next pitcher selected falter. Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch (via Buster Olney) noted that Wacha could be in line for the open starting spot due up on Thursday, but also mentioned that the team hopes to limit Wacha's innings this season. Wacha was scratched from his start on Sunday, which definitely could point to him getting that call. Hummel also mentioned in his story that the team will be announcing the starter for Thursday's game on Tuesday, so you may still have a little bit of time to go get Wacha in standard leagues.
I believe that Wacha plays as more of a streaming option in shallow and non-keeper leagues, as his potential first few starts don't exactly look like amazing matchups: vs KC, vs. ARI, @CIN, and then @MIA. He is an absolute must-add in deeper formats (14-16 teams, NL-only), but honestly it's entirely possible he is not available in those leagues already given his proximity to the Majors. Just bear in mind that there may still be some tough starts, and that it is possible the Cardinals could send him back to the minors if Jake Westbrook returns any time soon.