Bits: Future ace Michael Wacha shines 

September, 25, 2013
It’s amazing how the loaded St. Louis Cardinals continue to develop tremendous young and relevant pitching, almost an embarrassment of riches. Not only will right-handers Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal likely receive Rookie of the Year votes, but on Tuesday, Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha, in his ninth big league start, came within one out of no-hitting the Washington Nationals. Wacha, who is no Bud Smith -- ask Cardinals/Phillies fans about the no-hit lefty from 2001-02 -- represents another future ace for this ridiculously deep team. Wacha ultimately allowed a Ryan Zimmerman infield single to end his date with history, but fantasy owners need to be aware of this guy immediately.

[+] EnlargeMichael Wacha
AP Photo/Jeff RobersonMichael Wacha was this close to tossing a no-hitter in his ninth career start on Tuesday against the Nationals.
Relying on pinpoint mid-90s fastball command and a terrific changeup, Wacha breezed through a legit Nationals lineup that is fifth in baseball in runs scored this month and, despite being eliminated from playoff contention, was playing its regulars. I admit I was a bit apprehensive about using Wacha as a spot starter after his previous outings, one in which he walked four Seattle Mariners in five innings of work and the other a Coors Field-induced hitfest in which Wacha was pulled after 4 2/3 innings. On Tuesday there were no concerns. This is a future ace, folks, and someone likely to earn a place in the October rotation.

Projecting ahead, the Cardinals certainly could use Wacha, Rosenthal and right-hander Carlos Martinez -- don’t forget about him -- as starters next season, or one of them could be the closer. Regardless, fantasy owners should bet on top arms whatever the role, and the Cardinals continue to show they know what they’re doing, even without famed pitching coach Dave Duncan (it’s actually been Derek Lilliquist for a few years now.) Check out colleague Tristan H. Cockcroft’s 2014 pitcher rankings on Wednesday, but assuming Wacha is a starting pitcher in 2014, he’ll be eminently worth drafting even in 10-team formats, probably in the 50-55 range. Hey, the position is deep.