In the weeks leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, Cubs right-hander Matt Garza was one of the hottest pitching commodities. Speculation was rampant about where he would be sent. Boston? The Yankees? Texas? The Angels?
Then, he experienced right triceps cramping during a start on July 21 and left after three innings, abruptly halting trade discussions.
Whether Garza is dealt during the off-season remains to be seen. That he will remain in Chicago for the rest of this campaign is definite, though, with the news that he will be shut down because of a stress fracture in Garza’s pitching elbow. According to Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said that the 28-year-old veteran of seven Major League seasons will not pick up a baseball for two weeks.
Garza was diagnosed with the injury on Monday. He completed a bullpen session last Saturday in Los Angeles but reported soreness the next day.
The Cubs hoped Garza would rejoin the rotation on Tuesday against San Diego. Instead, he will be replaced by 24-year-old Brooks Raley, who will make his Major League debut and become the 14th rookie used by first-year manager Dale Sveum this season.
A sixth round pick out of Texas A&M in 2009, Raley started the year at Double-A Tennessee where he was 2-2 with a 3.51 ERA in eight starts. After a promotion to Triple-A Iowa, Raley posted a 4-8 record and a 3.62 ERA in 14 starts. He served up six runs on 10 hits in six innings during his last outing.
Garza’s absence further depletes a rotation recently hit with the trades of Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm. Raley joins Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Justin Germano and Chris Volstad as the Cubs starting five.
A first round pick of the Twins in 2005, Garza was traded to Tampa Bay after the 2007 season and helped guide the Rays to the American League pennant, earning the win in the decisive Game Seven over Boston in the American League Championship Series.
Though he is under .500 for his career at 57-61, Garza is well-regarded because of his competitive spirit on the mound and a career ERA of 3.84. This will be the first season he has not eclipsed 30 starts since 2007. On a woeful Cubs team, Garza produced respectable numbers this year with a 3.91 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in 18 outings.
Teams like the Red Sox, Yankees and even the Baltimore Orioles were linked to Garza last month because of his proven track record in the American League East. As Cubs president Theo Epstein and Hoyer continue the Cubs in-depth rebuilding project, there is speculation that
Garza could be traded in the off-season, but Hoyer recently told the Chicago Tribune that, “He’s likely to be a member of the Cubs in 2013. And we’re excited to have him. (Trading him) is the last thing we’re thinking of. We’re just trying to get this guy healthy.”