Buffa: The murky future of Jaime Garcia

How long do you hold onto a piece of stock before it's deemed hazard luggage?

Are you tired of Jaime Garcia, the enigmatic St. Louis Cardinals southpaw who carries a wicked nasty limb yet frustrates? My patience has grown extremely thin. The man can pitch, but will he ever put it all together? Thursday was another rough start, where Garcia allowed five earned runs in less than four innings of work and was yanked extremely early.

The irritation among Cards fans is legit. Garcia hasn't been completely healthy and effective in a season since 2011. He's served up batches and bits of his ability throughout the past five years, and last year was a highlight. Whether it was at Busch, on the road, or in a hotel parking lot, Garcia was nasty, holding hitters to a sub .200 average and composing an ERA of 2.43. Only 20 starts, but still a healthy dose of the lefty. 

Then, October came and a sick Garcia coughed up an early lead against the Chicago Cubs in the NLDS and swung the series around towards the North Side and left a nasty taste in the mouth of the sea of red. A stellar season was dismissed, and doubt crept back in. 

2016 hasn't been kind to Jaime Garcia. His pitches are up, carry less movement, and gotten hammered more often than not. Garcia has allowed 22 home runs and 170 total hits in 163 innings while tying a career high with 28 starts. Over his last 15 starts, Garcia's ERA is 5.15 with a WHIP of 1.40. It doesn't get any brighter over his last seven starts. Garcia's 4.58 ERA overall is less than average and unlike what one can expect of a healthy crafty southpaw. 

Is he hurt? Isn't everybody a little dented this time of year? I don't think Garcia is hurt. Everybody is hurt, so I don't think Garcia's performance deserves to carry an asterisk of imperfect health. Could it be another case of Lance Lynn 2015 where he pitched hurt for half a season? There's a chance, especially with Garcia's injury history. Until confirmed, Jaime's performance this year is what it is. Unreliable. 

If the season ended today, what does one do with an enigmatic talent like Garcia? He carries a breezy 10 million dollar option for 2017 and it would be remiss for General Manager John Mozeliak to pass that easy extension up. It's logical to be disappointed in what the starter has produced, but passing up on an easy pickup option isn't wise.

The right move is to pick up the option and look to trade Garcia. I'm frankly tired of playing the Jaime game every summer. I sweat enough in the St. Louis humidity, so the additional perspiration of Garcia isn't required. He's dropping on the wrong side of 30 and has produced more headaches than wins over the past 9 years. With young guns like Luke Weaver and Alex Reyes in the stable, letting Garcia go is easier now than it was a year ago.

In the winter of 2015, the Cards would lose John Lackey and Lance Lynn. 400 innings of stout consistency. This time, the Birds will be more loaded with internal options and salary to spend. 

Garcia could change my mind with three complete game shutouts to end the season and a mesmerizing playoff performance, but I don't that happens. He is a product of much promise and ongoing letdown. When you wanted him to be healthy, he wasn't. When you wanted him to be healthy and effective, he was for a brief period of time. 

Whether or not Garcia finds his way in 2016, I can only hope his 2017 is spent wearing another uniform. It's time. 


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