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21 July 2010

Is Cardinals Garcia Running Out of Gas?

Jaime Garcia's rookie season has been the stuff of dreams.  Only able to pitch 37.2 innings last season in the minors after returning from Tommy John surgery on his elbow the St. Louis Cardinals didn't plan on having him on their Major League roster, much less being an essential part of the rotation.  He has a low ERA of 2.27 in 18 starts and sports an 8-4 record that is more indicative of the troubles of the St. Louis offense in the first half of the season rather than Garcia's effectiveness.

But the low number of innings pitched last season raises red flags.  Garcia has already pitched 103 innings so far this year and it's not out of line to question how long his strength will hold on as the Cardinals enter the stretch-run of the season.

Perhaps Garcia is already running out of gas.  He was not sharp at all in his last start against the Dodgers on July 16th.  A very inefficient Garcia threw 82 pitches but only lasted 3.1 innings, giving up 8 hits and 2 ER.  

Garcia has only finished the sixth inning once in his last four starts.  On July 2 he did have a brilliant start, shutting out the Brewers over seven innings allowing only 3 hits.  But in the other three starts, he has only lasted a combined 10.2 innings while giving up 9 ER on 21 hits and 4 walks - an average of 2.45 base-runners per inning and an ERA of 7.94.

Garcia is still performing better than Blake Hawksworth or Jeff Suppan over the last four starts, but Garcia's bad outings have been worse than the other two fill-in starters.

Tonight's start against a predominately left-handed hitting lineup could lessen these concerns.  Tonight could also be the exact moment when the franchise's efforts to gain another starter before the trade deadline become much more urgent.

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