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“I try to keep competing, no matter what my stuff is that day.”

Michael Wacha is off to a good start this season. Photo by Scott Audette/AP

Right-hander Michael Wacha has been a constant presence in a Red Sox rotation that has had its ups and downs early in the season.

Wacha, who pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays last year, earned his first win of the season against his former team on Friday night. He allowed two solo homers to Wander Franco, but was otherwise consistent as he went five innings and allowed three hits in a 4-3 win.

“Just typical Wacha, mixing his stuff up,” interim manager Will Venable told reporters. “He was in the zone, he made some great pitches. He kept them off balance. He did a great job.”

On the season, Wacha is 1-0 and has allowed three runs in 14 1/3 innings, good for a 1.88 ERA. He has allowed six hits and seven walks while striking out 12, opponents are hitting .125 against him and he has a 0.91 WHIP.

He’s not technically the staff ace, but he’s pitched like one so far.

Even though he got the win on Friday, he said he wasn’t as ready as he wanted and was disappointed with how often he fell behind in the count. However, he was satisfied with the way he fought.

“I try to keep competing, no matter what I do that day,” Wacha told NESN. “You may have to go to a few different things that you’re not used to whenever a few things don’t work out.”

Wacha has a 4.11 ERA for his career and has had many strong seasons throughout his career, but he posted a 6.62 ERA with the Mets in 2020 and a 5.05 mark with the Rays last season. His last winning season was in 2018, when he went 8-2 with a 3.20 ERA for the Cardinals.

So far this year, it looks like he’s starting to look like his old self. He allowed one earned run in 4 1/3 innings against the Detroit Tigers earlier this season and just one hit and no earned runs in five stellar innings against the Twins. The Rays game was the latest example in an ever-growing sample size. He has a 1.11 ERA and a .091 opponents average in his last five regular-season starts.

According to MLB Quality of PitchWacha has a QOPA of 4.84, which is in the top 18 percent in MLB. His sinker (6.34 QOPA) is in the top 3 percent, and his changeup, fastball and curveball have also been solid.

If Wacha can continue to produce at his current rate, it would be a boon to a Red Sox team that already has a loaded lineup and needs as many reliable pitchers as possible.

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