The injury bug never stops biting, even for teams imbued with voodoo magic.
The Cardinals have “hit the brakes” on lefty Jaime Garcia, who informed the team he had issues with his surgically repaired throwing shoulder. He will undergo evaluations and his status on the Opening Day roster is in jeopardy.
This is the latest setback for Garcia, who hasn’t been healthy since signing a contract extension in 2011 worth $27 million over four years. The deal, which was signed the summer before Garcia was to hit arbitration, has club options that could have made it worth $50 million over six years.
Since 2011, Garcia has made 36 starts and pitched a total of 220.2 innings.
When healthy, he has proven to be a quality starter. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2010, Garcia is 41-25 with a 3.44 ERA, 3.32 FIP and a 110 ERA+ to go along with a 2.8 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The Cardinals have had their fair share of spring setbacks. Adam Wainwright had minor elbow surgery at the end of last season and had an abdominal strain that delayed his spring debut. Lance Lynn had a hip flexor strain in early March. And we can’t forget Michael Wacha missed time last season with a shoulder injury, though he said he was “extremely healthy” entering camp.
And yet, the Cardinals still have some semblance of starting pitching depth, even with trading Shelby Miller and prospect Tyrell Jenkins this winter.
Carlos Martinez and Marco Gonzales are now vying for the newly open spot in the rotation. Though, the inclusion of Martinez in the rotation would mean one less power arm for manager Mike Matheny to work with out of the bullpen. The Cards could also dip into their farm system and call up lefty Tim Cooney, if necessary. Tyler Lyons has major league experience, too, though he hasn’t been great this spring.
Ex-Cub Carlos Villanueva is in camp on a minor league deal and has struck out 11 and walked only 2 in 11 innings of work. He could be a swing man or he could opt out of his minor league deal tomorrow if he isn’t confident he’ll win a roster spot.
Save for Jon Lester’s brief run-in with a dead arm, Kris Bryant’s shoulder fatigue, and Starlin Castro’s groin injury, the Cubs have been relatively healthy and free of major injuries (or, at least, major injuries to major players).
All things considered, a clean bill of health might be the most important victory the Cubs could pick up this spring. As for the Cardinals, we’ll see how their rotation fares once the season gets underway.
Which just happens to kick off one week from today, when those Cubs host those Cardinals at Wrigley Field.