With 157 1/3 innings through 25 starts, Wacha was on pace to throw 195 over 31 starts. Now he's unlikely to make more than five starts in the weeks leading up to the postseason.
"Obviously, I want to be out there, but they think it's best for me skipping a start," said Wacha, who was told of the revised plans after Tuesday's game. "I feel really strong right now. The last starts that I've had, I've felt strong the whole time. I'm going to take the rest and get ready for the next one.
The Cardinals had already made a similar move with Carlos Martinez this week. As the Cardinals view it, innings saved with Martinez and Wacha now are innings the two can pitch in October.
"We have just been keeping our eyes open for an opportunity," manager Mike Matheny said. "[Wacha] feels good, and he wants to keep going, but there are also reasons we need to take a little pause whenever we get an opportunity. The easy decision is to just keep firing him in there. I explained that to him as well, because he's not overly excited about it, but once again, this is a conversation we had not just a few days ago but throughout the season."
Matheny acknowledged that Tuesday's outcome did at least loosely affect the decision to build in Wacha's break now. The Cardinals had a six-game division lead over the Pirates and had already secured a series victory over the Nationals regardless of Wednesday's result.
Though the Cardinals could bring back Wacha over the weekend to pitch against the Pirates, they will instead start Martinez, Jaime Garcia and John Lackey, in that order.
Lance Lynn had been scheduled to start on Friday but will be given a few extra days to recover from a mild right ankle sprain, an injury he sustained over the weekend. He, like Wacha, is expected to appear against the Cubs next week.
"Lance was very adamant about wanting to be out there and still have his start on time, and I believe he would have made it and competed well," Matheny said. "But we had the advantage of extra time, and we're going to take it."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.