It's no mystery to the Pittsburgh Pirates and their fanbase, the team simply struggles in the second half of the season. As Matt Garza appears to be on the trading block, an acquisition of the Chicago Cubs' right-hander could be the answer to all the troubles the Pirates have had after the All-Star Break.
In 2011, the Pirates were four games over .500 as the Midsummer Classic interrupted the regular season. However, they finished that year 72-90. Last season, in 2012, the Pirates were 11 games over .500 at the All-Star Break and in first place, but they finished the year 79-83 and in third place. There's just something about the second half of the season that drives the Pirates out of whack.
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This year, the Pirates are off to their best start in recent decades. They are in second place, 19 games over .500 and the leaders in the N.L. Wild Card race. How can Garza help the Pirates avoid another second-half debacle? There are a couple of reasons.
The last time Garza lost a start, it was June 11 and the New York Yankees were in second place in the A.L. East. The Yankees are now in fourth place and struggling to find healthy veterans who can get their offense going. Garza has won five straight decisions, allowing only six earned runs combined during the streak.
Knows the N.L. Central
Some see this as a reason why the Cubs would be hesitant about trading Garza to a division rival. However, those who know Theo Epstein understand that if the price is right, he's willing to pull the trigger on any player to any team regardless of the division. This year, Garza has made four starts against the N.L. Central and is 2-1 with a 6.48 ERA. Don't be fooled by the ERA. In his last two starts against N.L. Central rivals, Garza is 2-0 with a 2.04 ERA.
Currently on the Pirates' roster, only A.J. Burnett, Russell Martin, Jason Grilli, Clint Barmes, Brandon Inge and Francisco Liriano have playoff experience. Adding a guy like Garza, who won the 2008 ALCS MVP award, would be clutch.
The Cubs are more likely to sell Garza as they understand that they can get a good return for the righty. Garza drove his value up after dominating baseball for a little over a month.