It was not too long ago when Jaime Garcia was thought to be one of the key parts moving forward for the Cardinals pitching rotation. In 2011, Garcia signed a four-year contract worth $27 million, mainly due to his performance on the mound in the previous two seasons. In 2010, Garcia finished third in the N.L. Rookie voting with a 13-8 record and a 2.70 ERA. In his second full-year in the majors, Garcia continued to pitch well, going 13-7 with a 3.56 ERA in addition to pitching admirably for the Cardinals in the World Series where he only allowed two runs in 10 innings against the Rangers. So by all accounts, this was a great deal for the Cardinals as they we’re locking down one of the top younger pitchers in the game.
Yet, to say Garcia has been a disappointment would be an understatement. And when I say disappointment, I’m referring to this guy. Yes, it’s harsh for a grown man to be compared to an animated fish in Spongebob, but it’s appropriate since it seems like Garcia has been in a full body cast for his entire career as a Cardinal. It started in 2008 when Garcia needed Tommy John surgery, forcing him to start the 2009 season on the DL. Since everybody and their brother appears to get Tommy John surgery now for the fun of it, we’ll let Garcia slide on that injury. Yet, this was only the beginning of Garcia’s woes.
In 2012, Garcia angered some of his teammates and general manager by apparently pitching with shoulder discomfort in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Nationals where he only lasted two innings. This shoulder discomfort continued into 2013 where Garcia finally had to have another season ending shoulder surgery after going 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA in only nine starts. Cardinal fans were hopeful that Garcia would live up to his potential in 2014, but alas, he started out the season by doing what he does best, being on the DL, this time with bursitis in his shoulder. Clearly, Jaime Garcia has a serious case of the injury bug.
However, there is a slim sliver of hope for Cardinal fans that Garcia may finally be pitching well enough to earn that $27 million he signed for three years ago. Understandably, Garcia got off to a rough start after pitching for the first time in over a year, going 1-3. Yet, he has looked downright unhittable in his last two games. Garcia has pitched 14 innings, given up only eight hits and one run, and has ten strikeouts. And it’s not like Garcia is pitching against some minor league team or the Astros, he did this against the Nationals and the Blue Jays who were both in first place at the time. If Garcia continues to pitch this well, the Cardinals will have added another weapon to an already absurdly good starting pitching rotation. From little leagues to the pros, there has always been something maddening about trying to hit a soft tossing lefty. Garcia provides a nice balance to the power right-handed arms of Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, and Michael Wacha, and will continue to keep hitters off-balance with his left-handed approach. Garcia will look to keep on earning that paper with another great start on Friday against the Phillies.