ARLINGTON, Texas - Matt Garza has pitched in pennant pushes before, but never as a potential free agent. Last week after taking the loss against the Pittsburgh Pirates, I asked him if that changed the equation at all.
"Not at all," he said. "I am not thinking about that at all."
Then what the hell is wrong with this guy? How did he forget how to pitch?
The reality that Garza will likely become an unrestricted free agent after this season is no excuse, and this is the lamest reason to possibly explain how this guy has pooped his shorts in such impressive fashion when his new team needs him the most.
In the Rangers' 6-2 loss at Tampa on Monday night, Garza allowed six runs on eight hits in 4.1 innings.
This is not a question of stuff or velocity. His command has been bad.
Since being acquired in a trade with the Cubs, Garza has killed any chance that he could be perceived as a front-line, potential No. 1 starter on a good team. He is 3-4 with a 4.46 ERA in 10 starts with the Rangers. In two starts in September, he is 0-2 with a 6.55 ERA.
He was supposed to be somewhere between recent big-time Rangers second half pitching acquisitions Cliff Lee and Ryan Dempster.
In 12 starts with the Rangers last season, Dempster posted a 5.09 ERA. The difference between Garza and Dempster is offence? The '12 Rangers scored a lot for Dempster, which explained his 7-3 record with the club.
As bad as this off-a-cliff fall is for the Rangers, they can still get into the playoffs where Garza can reverse this trail of stink and increase his value as a free agent.
He will be the most attractive free agent pitcher this offseason, which means some dumb GM will throw a truck load of cash at him to be the pitcher the Rangers thought they had acquired.
To be a little more like Cliff Lee and a lot less like Ryan Dempster.
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