In the lead-up to each of Matt Garza’s last three starts – a stretch that dates back to the beginning of this month – the story line has been, “will this be Matt Garza’s last start with the Cubs?” I never bought into it, not because I didn’t think there was a chance he’d be dealt before the All-Star break, but because it’s kind of an empty narrative. I mean, yeah, sure it could be his last start. But maybe it won’t. And then you just have to do the dance all over again in five days. To me, you can’t reach that level of focus on a singular start until, at least, after the All-Star break (and that’s coming from a guy who does Obsessive Watches).
Well, we’ve passed the All-Star break. Moreover, we’ve passed a stretch that saw Garza very nearly dealt to the Rangers on Friday, and then become the focus of rumor rumblings all weekend long. And lastly, we’re about to watch Garza make his first of just two theoretically available starts with the Cubs before the Trade Deadline.
In other words … it’s ok to do the heavy-focus-on-this-start-thing now.
Will Garza actually make tonight’s start against the Diamondbacks? Well, Dale Sveum tried to answer that question as affirmatively as he could yesterday.
“I’d say 100 percent he’s going to be pitching tomorrow,” Sveum said when asked about Garza starting tonight in Arizona, per Cubs.com. So it’s a lock, right? No deal today!
“All I know is he’s pitching tomorrow, and I guess if we get a phone call and something changes, that’s the way it is,” Sveum said. “But it’s not something that consumes me, I don’t live my life that way.”
And that’s completely fair. It’s not as though the front office is keeping Sveum in the dark. They don’t know when the right deal for Garza is going to present itself. If it doesn’t come today, then Sveum – and Garza, God bless him – has to continue about his day as though he knows precisely who is going to start tonight. From Sveum’s perspective, having not heard anything else, it is 100 percent certain that Garza will start tonight for the Cubs. Until he doesn’t. If he doesn’t. We’ll see.
No contingency plans have been put into motion as of yet, said Sveum, which probably means that Chris Rusin has not been tapped to head out to Arizona. Instead, Rusin is scheduled to start tonight in Iowa. If a Garza deal comes too late in the day to get Rusin out to Arizona, the Cubs may have to bump Travis Wood up a day (which would be OK, given the All-Star break). But if you don’t see Rusin heading out to Arizona at any point today, the Cubs must not feel like a Garza trade is reasonably possible before tonight.
At which point, we’ll all watch Garza start, hold our breaths a little bit, and get ready to do another five days of dancing. With the Red Sox not hearing about Clay Buchholz’s meeting with Dr. James Andrews until later today, and with teams like the Indians, A’s and Pirates seemingly pushing more and more into the Garza talks by the day, maybe another five days to work on a deal isn’t the worst thing in the world.
UPDATE (12:10pm CT): As of right now, Ken Rosenthal doesn’t see any indication that Garza is not making this start tonight. No move by the Cubs yet to bring anyone up, and no obvious long reliever available to fill in. He could just be regurgitating the essence of what Dale Sveum was saying, but it’s another modest data point.