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Numbers Game: Rangers get Garza from Cubs

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Scott Cullen
7/23/2013 12:38:11 AM
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The Texas Rangers have a long list of injured starting pitchers, so they made a strong move to acquire one of the top available starters.

Numbers Game breaks down the Rangers' acquisition of Matt Garza.

The Rangers Get: RHP Matt Garza

Garza, 29, is a hard-throwing starting pitcher who has been stellar for the Cubs this season, once he joined the rotation May 21, after recovering from a strained lat muscle. In 11 starts for Chicago, Garza is 6-1 with a career-low 3.17 ERA and career-best 1.14 WHIP, striking out 62 in 71 innings.

In three seasons with the Cubs, Garza owns a 1.21 WHIP, which puts him in solid company, with Zack Greinke, CC Sabathia and Gio Gonzalez and his 3.45 ERA over that span ranks 23rd among qualified starting pitchers.

Garza is not as overpowering as he has been in past years, but Garza still averages 92.7 MPH with his fastball and has stayed with harder stuff, throwing fewer change-ups than at any other point in his career.

Going to Texas is a trouble spot, for any pitcher, not just Garza. It's a small sample, but in five career starts at Rangers Park, Garza is 2-3 with a 6.04 ERA and 1.31 WHIP, striking out 30 in 28 1/3 innings. Hardly definitive, but not encouraging either.

Texas has gone virtually the whole season without Colby Lewis, Neftali Feliz and Matt Harrison due to injuries, then Alexi Ogando and Nick Tepesch have joined them on the DL, making it increasingly difficult for the Rangers to keep pace in the American League West. Garza, who will be a free agent at season's end, is making $10.25-million this season, and will be an upgrade for the Rangers' depleted rotation, giving them a better shot at a playoff berth.

Additionally, he's a power arm and power arms tend to rule the postseason.

The Cubs Get: 3B Mike Olt, RHP C.J. Edwards, RHP Justin Grimm and a player to be named later.

Olt is a 24-year-old power-hitting third baseman who has struggled this season. In 2012, Olt hit 28 homers and had a .977 OPS for Double-A Frisco, earning a 16-game stint with the Rangers, during which he hit .152 with a .432 OPS.

This season has been more trying for Olt. Since moving to Triple-A, Olt is hitting just .213 with 11 homers and a .739 OPS in 65 games, but he had vision issues early in the year which seem to be coming around (he has an .860 OPS with 11 homers in 45 games since the beginning of June). If he's back on track, Olt is a legitimate option to become a long-term starter at third base for the Cubs.

Edwards appears to be the most promising aspect of this deal for the Cubs. A 48th round pick in 2011, but a skinny kid with a big fastball, Edwards has been dominating the low minors. Leaving aside his dominant Rookie ball numbers (1.48 ERA, 0.85 WHIP in 14 GP), Edwards has a 1.92 ERA and 1.00 WHIP, with 182 strikeouts in 140 1/3 innings over 28 starts between low-A ball and Single-A.

He's 21-years-old, so he'll have some time to fill out and get stronger before he's major-league ready, but could be a significant long-term asset if he continues along this development curve.

24-year-old Justin Grimm has been taking a regular, if not altogether successful turn, in the Rangers' rotation this season, posting a 6.37 ERA and 1.65 WHIP in 17 starts. However, Grimm's underlying numbers suggest that he's been the victim of bad luck, including a low percentage (63.8%) of runners left on base.

If moving to Texas is a risky proposition for Garza, it would stand to reason that getting out of Texas could make things better for Grimm. Considering the other options for the Cubs -- Chris Rusin, Brooks Raley -- there's a good opportunity for Grimm to continue making regular starts in Chicago, effectively in an effort to audition for next year's staff.

Considering the Cubs were facing the prospect of losing Garza as a free agent, they got a nice return. There is uncertainty, and they might come up with nothing long-term, but there is also the possibility that the Cubs might have secured three pieces that could be part of the roster for many years to come.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Matt Garza (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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