But the right-hander didn't miss a beat on Wednesday, striking out four in two perfect innings of relief. Wacha made four starts this season (going 1-0 with a 4.37 ERA), but was transitioned into the 'pen this week after a spot-start on Saturday. Wacha pitched in relief last year in the Minors, but it was more an effort to control his innings work when he was fresh off his junior season at Texas A&M.
"It's just definitely an adrenaline rush," Wacha said. "It was a little different. Had to warm up a little bit quicker, but I just tried to go out there and attack the hitters right away."
"It sort of reminded me of what we saw last year during his rise up through the Minor Leagues and also what we saw in Spring Training," said general manager John Mozeliak. "Very electric stuff, and hopefully we can tap into that in high-leverage spots now."
Wacha said he has never pitched on back-to-back days, but added that he could pitch on Thursday if he had to, although the Cardinals intend to ease him into his new role before he makes consecutive appearances.
"We typically don't show our hand ahead of time, but he's not going to pitch [Thursday]," manager Mike Matheny said. "We'll take a look at him [on Friday]. I imagine it'll be how quick he bounces back, how he shows the trainers he is bouncing back, how he feels. … That's not in the real near future [throwing back-to-back days], but I don't think it's something we can rule out down the road."
Despite needing six relievers to complete a 6-5 win over Pittsburgh in 12 innings, Wacha did not pitch.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.