MLB Arizona Diamondbacks

Matt Garza Can Absolutely Be Cubs’ Ace For The Future

It’s no secret that the Cubs have more than flirted with the idea of trading stud pitcher Matt Garza this winter.

They’ve been rumored to have been close with the Detroit Tigers, and have supposedly held discussions with a number of other teams, including Toronto, Boston, and the Yankees.

But Garza remains a Cub. And barring something unforeseen, he will be when the Cubs get underway for the 2012 season. Whether or not he finishes out the year or is gone by the trade deadline is something that remains to be seen.

The high volume of Garza trade rumors since the offseason began has spurred a debate as to whether or not the Cubs should consider trading him and maximizing his value, or signing him to an extension and building around him.

As of right now, Matt Garza is the Cubs’ ace. The starting staff has seen an overhaul to the point where he and Ryan Dempster could be the only returning pitchers from 2011 in Chicago’s starting five. But despite a solid season in 2011 from the 28-year-old Garza, many have wondered if he actually has the chops to be an ace in the Major Leagues.

If this was in the American League, then I would agree. In his brief time with the Minnesota Twins and with the Tampa Bay Rays, Garza was solid, but he wasn’t really ace material. In the National League, though, it could be a different story.

Garza’s numbers from last season speak for themselves. Ignoring his 10-10 record, which doesn’t display the fact that the Cubs blew the game eight times after Garza left with a lead, his stats were among the best in the NL.

He finished with a very strong 3.32 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. His nine strikeouts per nine innings were  good for seventh in the NL and his 197 punchouts also finished in the top ten. His xFIP, at 3.19, was among the best in the league as well.

Garza has one of the league’s best fastballs, averaging around 94 MPH. Last season,  he mixed up his pitches more and was a better pitcher for it. He still leaned on that fastball, but mixed in his slider and changeup regularly.

If Garza can take even a small step forward and improve this season, then there’s little doubt in my mind that he can become an ace for the Cubs when this team is ready to contend, which should come within the next couple of years. He has a few years of his prime left, and could still have a couple of prime seasons left when the Cubs are in contention.

I obviously understand the purpose behind a potential trade of Matt Garza. If they can get a team to overpay for him like he’s Roy Halladay, then the front office should pull the trigger. But they should take a step back and look at the fact that they already have a potential ace in Garza, and should put a great deal of thought into locking him up for at least a few more seasons.