The last couple of years, I spent the time immediately after the season examining each player that had made an appearance in St. Louis during the season. This series was well received and so I’m bringing this idea back for the 2014 offseason. More summaries than anything, I imagine the player coming into Mike Matheny‘s office and having a short conference before heading home for the winter. Stats are just the ones accumulated for the Cardinals during the regular season.
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Player: Jaime Garcia
Season stats: 3-1, 4.12 ERA, 7 games, 43.2 IP, 39 H, 7 BB, 39 K, 1.053 WHIP, 90 ERA+
Hero/Goat: Hero 1, Goat 1
Overall grade: B-
Positives: Had his best game of the year June 8, when he shut down the potent Toronto offense, holding them scoreless for seven innings….had the best command of his career, only walking 1.4 batters per nine innings….had four games of at least seven strikeouts.
Negatives: You knew it was only a matter of time, and sure enough Garcia was shut down in June and eventually underwent shoulder surgery….was left out to absorb a beating by the Royals at the beginning of June, giving up six runs in the fifth inning while Matheny just watched from the dugout….only crossed the 100 pitch plateau twice in his seven games.
Overview: If you are looking for the most frustrating Cardinal, your search might be over. If Garcia wasn’t as talented as he is, it’d be easy for fans and the front office to just write him off, assume he’s damaged goods and he’ll never be able to contribute. (Well, it’d be easier for the front office to do that if he wasn’t signed to a four-year contract which doesn’t expire until after next season.) Sometimes it’d just be nice to move on from the aggravation.
However, the fact is Garcia is quite talented. We saw that this year, when he started putting up solid start after solid start. When he’s on, he’s a great left-handed addition to the rotation. Even one as loaded as what the Cardinals have, there’s room for a guy like that when he’s healthy and he’s on his game.
The problem is he just can’t seem to stay healthy. Given that he had his surgery in early July, it would seem reasonable that he’ll be ready to go for spring training, if not quite 100% by Opening Day. Of course, given that said surgery was kind of a surprise to John Mozeliak, there may not be that overwhelming desire to find room for him in a crowded rotation.
Outlook: Garcia will pitch sometime for the Cardinals in 2015, but it probably won’t be a lot and he’ll probably come down again with some malady, ending his career with the Redbirds. Before that, though, he’s going to tantalize us again with some “what if he’s healthy” talk and some solid outings, but everyone knows you better have an insurance starter waiting in the wings.