The man widely seen as the best pitcher available at this year's deadline has found a new home. The Rangers acquired Matt Garza from the Cubs, sending Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm and a player to be named later to the Cubs. In real life, the Rangers get themselves a suitable No. 3 starter who has had success pitching in the American League and in the playoffs. In fantasy, however, Garza's owners will take a huge hit.
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Let's start with the obvious: Pitchers in the National League essentially get a free out every time through the rotation. That's not the case in the American League (unless you're facing the Astros or White Sox).
At first glance, it appears the move from the NL Central to the AL West is a wash, leaving aside the fact that it includes a change of leagues. The Cardinals are one of the best offensive teams in the league, the Reds are an above-average offense, and the Pirates entered the All-Star Break with the second-best record in the NL. However, on a park-adjusted basis, the Angels rank fifth in the league in offense, the A's rank 11th and the Mariners rank 13th. Only the Cardinals (4th) are better than those teams. The Reds are 14th. The Brewers are 18th, and they shockingly just lost Ryan Braun for the rest of the season.
While Wrigley Field has been an extreme hitters' park this year, Rangers Ballpark at Arlington is historically a nightmare for pitchers -- just look at the two best pitchers on the Rangers. Yu Darvish has a 3.14 ERA and 3.58 FIP at home, but those numbers drop to 2.83 and 2.65 on the road. He has allowed 1.13 homers per nine innings both home and away. Derek Holland has a 3.36 ERA and 3.39 FIP at home, while his road ERA is 2.89 and his road FIP is 2.55. He allows 1.07 homers for every nine innings at home, but just 0.24 homers per nine innings on the road. It would be foolish to think Garza will be totally immune to that.
Remember, too, that Garza is a starter of the good-but-not-great variety. Part of the reason he was in such demand was because he was clearly at the head of a class that included Ricky Nolasco, Bud Norris and Scott Feldman. Another reason was because of a hot six-start run he had beginning on June 16. He has allowed six runs in his last 43.2 innings, striking out 38 batters in that stretch. The numbers here lie a bit, though, as he faced the Mets, Astros, White Sox and Braun-less Brewers in four of those outings. He did impress in eight innings against the A's, but was fortunate in dancing around 10 hits and two walks in 6.2 innings against the Cardinals in what ended up being his last start as a Cub.
Garza should still be owned in all formats, and AL-only owners should be willing to plunk down a considerable portion of their remaining FAAB budget to get him. But he's unlikely to put up the numbers he did with the Cubs, and he shouldn't be counted on as anything more than a No. 3 or No. 4 starter in mixed leagues.
Starting pitcher barometer
• Jarred Cosart, Houston Astros -- The Astros will promote Cosart to start Tuesday against the A's, and this time it appears he's up for good. He tossed eight shutout innings in his debut against the Rays, allowing just two hits and three walks while striking out two. In 18 outings (17 starts) at Triple-A Oklahoma City, Cosart went 7-4 with a 3.19 ERA, 3.61 FIP and 93 strikeouts in 93 innings. Now that he's in the majors to stay, he should be added with confidence in all mixed leagues.
• Mike Minor, Atlanta Braves -- Minor had a rough stretch leading up to the All-Star break, allowing 15 earned runs in four of his last starts of the first half. He righted the ship in final two starts before the break, allowing just one run in 6.1 innings against the Marlins and then surrendering two runs while striking out seven in seven innings in a win over the Reds. In his first start of the second half, he threw eight strong innings against the White Sox, allowing two earned runs on five hits with eight strikeouts. He's now the 14th-ranked starting pitcher in standard 5x5 leagues.
• Ivan Nova, New York Yankees -- If the Yankees are going to make a run in the second half, it appears Nova will have to be a big part of it. He has bounced between the rotation and bullpen while in the majors, and has spent time in the minors this year, but at this point it's safe to say he's in the rotation to stay. In two July starts before Monday, he allowed three runs on eight hits in 17 innings with 17 strikeouts. That includes a complete-game victory over the powerful Orioles in which he fanned 11 batters. He threw five innings Monday, allowing one run on four hits, striking out four and walking two. He's worth adding in all mixed leagues.
• Matt Garza, Texas Rangers -- We touched on it earlier, but it warrants another mention here. Now that Garza is in the American League and pitching in one of the toughest parks for pitchers in the majors, we have to downgrade his value for the rest of the season. He may contribute more consistently in the wins category with the Rangers than he did with the Cubs, but his rates are likely to go up and his strikeouts will remain flat, at best.
• Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox -- The good news for Buchholz: Dr. James Andrews confirmed a diagnosis of inflammation and declared his neck and shoulder structurally sound. The bad news: He's out until at least August, and may not be much help to fantasy owners the rest of the season. If you're looking like a safe bet to make the playoffs, however, I'd consider seeing if you can get Buchholz at a discount.
What a relief
• There could be some serious trouble in Pittsburgh. Jason Grilli had to call the trainer out during his outing Monday, and he looked to be in serious pain when he left the field. This would be a terrible end to what has been one of the best stories of the 2013 season, but there's no information quite yet. Still, if Mark Melancon is available in your league, he should be added immediately.
• Checking back in on Kevin Gregg, it would be a huge surprise if he's still in a Cubs uniform on August 1. The news this week, though, is that manager Dale Sveum said Pedro Strop would likely take over as the closer in the event of a Gregg trade. Strop has been pretty good since being dealt to the Cubs as part of the trade that sent Scott Feldman to the Orioles. He has thrown 6.2 shutout innings, striking out eight and allowing just two hits. If you're speculating deep for saves, Strop is worth an add.