For the first time in nearly a year, Chicago Cubs’ starting pitcher Matt Garza was starting in a Major League Baseball game on Tuesday. Garza reminded all of baseball just what type of pitcher he could be when healthy.
In five innings of work in the Cubs’ loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday, Garza held the Pirates’ scoreless while only allowing 1 hit and 3 walks to go along with 5 strikeouts.
There is no doubt that Garza was impressive in his season debut. There also is no question that Garza’s start on Tuesday was important for the Cubs as well as the starting pitcher.
Ever since Theo Epstein took control of the Chicago Cubs’ baseball operations and announced the rebuilding of the organization, Garza has been the team’s hottest trade commodity. In fact, had Garza not gotten injured last July, chances are the starting pitcher would be pitching for the Texas Rangers.
Though, speculation about the Cubs’ intent to trade Garza remains unchanged. Many reports and rumors suggest that the Cubs will make Garza available before the July 31 trade deadline. However, the Cubs don’t necessarily have to trade Garza. In fact, it could be argued that the Cubs should keep Garza.
When Garza returned on Tuesday, the starting pitcher was returning to a starting rotation that some already considered to be among the best in baseball. Travis Wood, Scott Feldman, and Jeff Samardzija have all been successful in the first two months of the regular season and that is a trend that is expected to continue.
The Cubs are not going to trade Samardzija, who should be the next player to receive a long-term extension by the front office. Wood is pitching himself into the long-term plans for the Cubs. Adding Garza to the mix will only give the Cubs another potent starting pitcher to their starting rotation.
If the Cubs were going to trade a starting pitcher with the hopes of acquiring impact prospects, then the team should consider trading Scott Feldman.
On the surface, Feldman is having a superb season for the Cubs. In 8 starts for the Cubs this season, Feldman is 4-3 to go along with an ERA of 2.19. Feldman’s ERA, however, may be misguided; as once you look at the starting pitcher’s FIP it shows that the former Texas Ranger has been lucky this season. Feldman has a FIP of 3.99 and a xFIP of 4.10 and those numbers are the true representation of how successful, or average, the starting pitcher has been this season.
Having said that, Feldman currently ranks as the top starting pitcher that is potentially available on the trade market. There is always a need for starting pitching. That would be why it is in the Cubs’ best interest to trade Feldman before his luck runs out. Because chances are that at this point in time, Feldman will garner more of a return in a trade than Garza.