With the New York Yankees recently solving their outfield troubles by acquiring Ichiro, it's time to focus on another one of their soft spots, starting pitching.
Matt Garza is a name that has been linked to the Yankees for a while now. The Yankees are rumored to be interested in the pitcher, and for good reason. Out of all the available pitchers, he's the one they need the most.
The Yankees don't need the shutdown ace that their fans want them to go after. Instead, the Yankees need a quality starter who can handle his own in the American League. Garza fits that and there are several other pros to him as well.
Now the Yankees could decide that the Chicago Cubs asking price is too high and opt to go with another pitcher. I believe with the right price however, Matt Garza is the pitcher that the Yankees need right now.
Matt Garza's strongest asset is the fact that he's pitched in the American League East before, as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. Many people seem to be worried whenever a National League pitcher transitions to the American League because of the differences and deeper lineup.
Now there are some pitchers who change leagues pretty well (see Hiroki Kuroda) but as for Garza, you won't have to worry with that. Garza never had an ERA over 4.00 when he started at least 30 games in the American League.
Garza got his start with the Minnesota Twins but was soon traded to the Rays. As a member of the Rays, Garza made his name and was a part of that amazing 2008 run where the team reached the World Series.
There's nothing to indicate that Garza could replicate the success he had then if he was to be traded back into the American League. He'd be familiar with a lot of the players and parks which would make the transition back a lot easier.
Also helping Garza is that he'd be returning to the American League East and be facing a lot of the same teams he faced before in the same ballparks.
There are other pitchers who the Yankees have been considering/attached to in name, topping that list is Zach Greinke. Other pitchers also include Josh Johnson, Ryan Dempster, Cole Hamels, and Francisco Liriano.
The majority of the players on that list have experienced injuries and even missed significant time. Liriano and Johnson both had Tommy John surgery and Zach Greinke just came back from a 10-day rest due to fatigue.
Matt Garza has yet to miss significant time like those guys did. Sure, Garza is sidelined with a triceps injury now, but that shouldn't alarm the Yankees.
Johnson, while being a superior pitcher in terms of ability than Garza, has trouble staying healthy. He only pitched in nine games last season and is currently battling a finger injury.
Greinke has shown signs of fatigue and the Yankees should be worried about that since he's not exactly built like CC Sabathia.
Garza has pitched at least 30 games and 180 innings over the last four years. There's nothing to indicate that he's going to experience a major injury anytime soon. The Yankees can bring him in and be certain that he'll pitch every fifth day.
With all of the injuries the Yankees have had this year, it's easy to forget that they were once a really deep team. Injuries to Michael Pineda, Joba Chamberlain, Brett Gardner, Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, CC Sabathia, and Andy Pettitte revealed how easy it is to lose depth and how thin the Yankees really were. That list isn't even complete.
Only Robertson and Sabathia have returned from the DL. The early struggles of the pitching staff and back to back losses of Sabathia and Pettitte showed the importance of pitching depth.
Pettitte is scheduled to be out until mid to late August. The Yankees could use another solid pitcher to give the team some depth and so they don't have to trot Freddy Garcia out there every fifth day.
Garcia was a savior last season and has fallen back to reality this season, but he's keeping the Yankees in the game, at least. Another solid pitcher like Matt Garza could help give the Yankees the push they need to be favorites for the World Series.
Once Pettitte returns, a rotation of Sabathia, Garza, Pettitte, and Kuroda in the postseason would match up against any other team. It would be the deepest rotation and arguably one of the strongest. When paired with the Yankees offense, there's no reason why the Yankees shouldn't reach the World Series.
One stat I always look for when evaluating pitchers is the pitcher's strikeout to walk ratio. The higher the ratio is, the better the pitcher. A pitcher's strikeout to walk ratio is one of the stats to determine a pitcher's control.
Of course there are other stats as well, but the K/BB ratio is my favorite to look at. After all, who wouldn't want to see their pitcher whiff 10 bats and give up no walks every night?
While there are pitchers whose K/BB ratio has been and is higher than Matt Garza, notably Zach Greinke, with all the other factors involved, Garza is still the right guy for the Yankees.
His career K/BB ratio is 2.46 which isn't too bad. This year he's sporting a 3.00 and last year it was 3.13, pretty good in my books.
Adding to that is Garza's career 7.58 K/9 and is currently 8.33. It was 8.96 last year. To put that into perspective, CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes' K/9 is 8.78 and 8.03 this year, respectively. Those two are leading the Yankees' rotation in that category.
Needless to say Garza is striking hitters out which is always what you want when you're trading for a pitcher.
Nothing against Hiroki Kuroda or Andy Pettitte, but they're not exactly number two material. They're great pitchers and have been great for the Yankees, but they aren't perfect number twos.
Pettitte is 40 years old and forgive me if I don't trust the way a 40-year-old's body holds up during the course of a baseball season. Old age means he's prone to injury, and while the one he has now is through no fault of his own, there's no telling how he'll come back from it.
Kuroda struggled during the early parts of the season and seems to settle into a nice groove now. He still has those lackluster games every now and then, which is to be expected, but he's right up there in age as well.
Great pitchers in their own rights, but I'd trust Matt Garza more as the Yankees number two guy. A solid, quality pitcher with no outstanding injuries that can strike people out. That sounds like the perfect number two candidate for me.
A rotation featuring CC Sabathia, Garza, Kuroda, Ivan Nova, and Phil Hughes would more than make up for Andy Pettitte's injury. Then when Pettitte returns, and if he returns to the way he was pitching prior to the injury, the Yankees would have one of the most deepest rotations in all of baseball.