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Boston Red Sox Trade Rumors: Is Matt Garza Enough to Cement 2012 Playoff Run?

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Boston Red Sox Trade Rumors: Is Matt Garza Enough to Cement 2012 Playoff Run?
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Matt Garza would be an ideal fit for the struggling Red Sox rotation, and would help them reach the playoffs in 2012.

For the Boston Red Sox, the answer to their starting rotation woes currently resides on the north side of Chicago in the person of Matt Garza.

According to Jayson Stark of ESPN, the Red Sox are still looking to land Garza.

While they may be forced to pay a heavy price to obtain the right-hander, the Sox have reached a point in their season where they no longer have a choice if they want to remain in the playoff race.

After a calamitous series against the Toronto Blue Jays that saw Red Sox starters surrender 18 earned runs in 16.1 innings of work (a 9.92 ERA), the main need of this team as the July 31st trade deadline approaches has never been more clear.

Despite the poor results from this past weekend and now being at an even .500 on the season (48-48), the Sox remain just 3.5 games out of the final wild-card spot. If they want to stay in the playoff picture, though, they need to acquire a quality starter to stabilize their rotation.

For both short-term and long-term reasons, Garza is the best option.

The biggest reason to believe Garza can be successful is his track record against the AL East. Pitching first for the Minnesota Twins, then the Tampa Bay Rays and finally for the Chicago Cubs, the right-hander has compiled a 23-15 record in 54 starts against divisional opponents.

His 3.34 ERA amassed over 342.1 career innings of work against the AL East is half a run better than his career ERA (3.84)—a feat even more impressive when considering the offensive caliber of all the AL East teams.

Garza has been a workhorse throughout his career, amassing nearly 200 innings pitched every season he has been a full-time MLB player. Despite the heavy workload, he has never had an ERA in a season over 3.95 and has never had a WHIP over 1.261.

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
The struggles of Jon Lester are a major reason the Sox are looking for starting pitching help as the July 31st trade deadline approaches.

These strong numbers stand in marked contrast to those of the current Sox rotation. The Sox rank 27th of the 30 MLB teams in starters’ ERA (4.84), 23rd in WHIP (1.37) and their .768 OPS against puts them at 25th.

No matter how you look at it statistically, this rotation desperately needs help.

Clay Buchholz, for now, looks like the ace (4-1, 2.63 ERA in his last seven starts), but after him comes a long line of question marks. Josh Beckett and Jon Lester have struggled all season, with Lester in particular looking increasingly lost on the mound with every start.

Felix Doubront has been excellent, but he is now approaching the most innings he has ever thrown in a professional season and cannot be reasonably expected to continue to be the second-best pitcher on this team.

Aaron Cook has been a great story, but it is fair to wonder how long he is going to be able to keep deceiving hitters with his repertoire of breaking pitches. If his sinker isn’t biting, things can go badly for him in a hurry.

It is abundantly clear that even if it means parting with a top prospect or two, the Sox need pitching help if they want to have any chance at a playoff spot.

Garza is an ideal solution because he would help the team not just this year; he would be under contract for 2013 as well, allowing the Sox to enter this upcoming offseason with one glaring need already filled.

With a wild-card berth still easily within reach, the Sox need to go out and get Garza now. The sizable upgrade he would provide over the current stable of poorly performing Sox starters would be more than enough to push the team into the playoffs.

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