The dust has settled and the deal is done: Matt Garza is officially a pitcher for the Texas Rangers and his first start is against the New York Yankees on Wednesday night. Needless to say, the pressure and hype surrounding the next chapter of his career in Texas is just about to boil over, so he needs a strong showing in the third of this four-game series to win over Rangers fans from the start.
Garza was 5-0 in six starts with a 1.24 ERA this year before the Chicago Cubs traded him on Monday, so that, coupled with the fact Texas has coveted him for almost two years, means he’ll be under a microscope in Arlington on Wednesday night with the Bronx Bombers in town. Let’s just say ticket prices on second-hand sites took a pretty good bump from those sold for Tuesday night’s contest.
As if all these factors weren’t enough, the Rangers just lost their first game this season when trailing after the eighth inning; they were 51-0 in all such games prior to Tuesday night, so there’s a sour taste in the mouths of Texas fans right now. Even still, the Rangers have struggled through a plethora of injuries to their starting pitchers this year (Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis are still on the 60-Day DL), so Garza is under a ton of pressure to ease the minds of everyone in Arlington, even though he had nothing to do with any of it prior to his arrival this week.
The Rangers optioned Cory Burns and Joseph Ortiz to Triple-A Round Rock to make room for Garza and Alexi Ogando, who returned from the disabled list to start the heartbreaking loss on Tuesday night. Derek Holland — the only regular Rangers starting pitcher to stay healthy all year — was originally scheduled to start Wednesday, but will now start the final of the four-game series against the Yankees on Thursday.
The reason for the switch was Garza’s extra two days of rest after he was scratched from his scheduled start for the Cubs on Monday when the deal was completed. The 29-year-old right-hander and Rangers manager Ron Washington agreed he shouldn’t sit out any longer and Texas fans certainly aren’t complaining.
Of course, Washington also mentioned Garza’s World Series experience from his 2008 trip with the Tampa Bay Rays, which is certainly a good thing considering the Rangers lost twice in the Fall Classic in 2010 and ’11. Now Garza is with a title contender, which is something he says he’s wanted since being traded to Chicago in 2010. In addition, the Rangers are capable of signing Garza to a long-term contract extension if he wants to stay in Texas after his contract expires at the end of this season. Obviously, another World Series trip wouldn’t hurt the Rangers’ chances of keeping their new star, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves — it’s only July and Garza’s first start in a Rangers uniform is still several hours away.