Building pitching depth was priority number one for the Mets during the Winter Meetings, as stated repeatedly by general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.
On Wednesday, the team helped build that depth by agreeing on a deal with veteran Michael Wacha, who Van Wagenen has hinted will be the team's fifth starter behind Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, and Steven Matz.
Wacha is a 28-year-old right-hander, originally from Iowa City, Iowa, though he played his high school ball in Texarkana, Texas. He was selected by the Cardinals in the first round of the 2012 draft out of Texas A&M.
He quickly ascended through the Cardinals' minor league system, and on May 30, 2013, he made his big-league debut.
As a rookie, Wacha was tremendous for the Red Birds, pitching to a 2.78 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .219 average. He also showed off great command, walking just 19 hitters over 64.2 innings, compared to 65 strikeouts.
He pitched so well as a rookie that he earned the start for Game 2 of the 2013 World Series in Boston. That night, he allowed just two earned runs in six innings of work, picking up the win and helping the Cardinals even the series. Wacha also started Game 6, and didn't fare nearly as well, allowing six earned runs in 3.2 innings, as the Red Sox won the game and clinched the title.
During the Cardinals' 2013 playoff run, Wacha went 4-1 with a 2.64 ERA, a .151 opponents' batting average. He was named NLCS MVP that year, combining for 13.2 scoreless innings in two starts against the Dodgers.
Statistically, Wacha's best full season came in 2015, when he won 17 games, pitched a career-best 181.1 innings, and recorded a 3.38 ERA. For his efforts, Wacha made his first and currently his only All-Star team that year.
In seven seasons overall, Wacha has pitched to a 3.91 ERA in 165 starts. With a career WHIP of 1.325, Wacha is 20 games over .500 for his career at 59-39.
The 2019 season was a struggle for him though, as he pitched to a 4.76 ERA and allowed 26 home runs in 126.2 innings. The right-hander even lost his spot in the Cardinals rotation at one point, as he made five appearances out of the bullpen.
The Mets of course are hoping that Wacha can round back into form and provide stability at the back end of their rotation, and perhaps and pitcher-friendly park like Citi Field is exactly what Wacha needs to get back on track.