Jaime Garcia’s 5 year contract ended as the Cardinal’s played their last game of the 2016 season, but with an available team option for 2017, should the Cardinal’s keep Jaime?

Not so long ago, Derrick Gould of the St. Louis Dispatch reported that Cardinal’s management are unsure on whether or not the they will make use of their team option on Jaime Garcia for the 2017 season. After posting a 4.67 ERA and a record of 10-13 in the 2016 season, this news shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. Plagued by the big inning and major inconsistencies from start to start, Garcia pitched his worst season of baseball since being called up for his first whole season in 2010. In many ways, Garcia was almost like a mood killer for the team. It seemed like that almost every time the Cardinal’s needed a win the most, to get out of a funk or keep up a streak, he would give up any chance of winning very early in the game by giving up multiple runs.

As a whole, Jaime Garcia failed in his role in the starting rotation.

The role of a starting pitcher is to give their team as many opportunities to win a baseball game as they can. Starting pitchers are considered good when they give their team’s offense a chance to win almost every game they start. The problem with Jaime Garcia is that his performances have a very bipolar nature to them; in half of his starts he would pitch phenomenally, in the other half he would give up five or six runs in less than five innings of work. It you want evidence of this, simply look at the ERA column in his game log for the 2016 season. His ERA per game always seems to either be sub 2.00 or over 8.00; there aren’t all too many in between.

The reason the question of whether or not to keep Garcia is such a tricky one is because his of inconsistencies. With so many good examples of why he would be worth it to keep, such as his one hitter against the Brewers in his second game of the season, it becomes very hard to give up all hope on him. But at the same time, his bipolar nature thwarts how many opportunities he actually gives his team to win. It’s very hard for a team to come back after giving up 4 or 5 runs in the first few innings of the game.

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Some may argue that a pitcher who is more inconsistent is in actuality much more consistent.

This may sound weird, but it actually does have some merit and interesting implications to it. This argument relies on the idea that a pitcher who alternates starts of 0 earned runs with starts of 6 earned runs will win more consistently than a pitcher who gives up 3 earned runs in every game he pitches. Makes sense right?The only problem with this is that the first kind of pitcher has a much harder time obtaining a win percentage over .500 than the second kind of pitcher. A pitcher who gives his team an opportunity to win each time he pitches is much more effective than a pitcher who can consistently post a .500 record.

If Garcia keeps up his inconsistencies from start to start, he will never be more than a mediocre pitcher. For a team who prides itself on its consistent ability to be a contender, mediocre pitching isn’t and shouldn’t be good enough. But the lingering thought of “what if he becomes more consistent” makes it very difficult to dismiss him entirely.

In my opinion the Cardinal’s can’t afford to pick up his option for 2017. At a price of $11.5 million, for a team with a payroll hovering around $120 million, a team who hopes to compete for years to come can’t afford to gamble so much on inconsistency. If Garcia can be resigned for a lower yearly amount, then I see no problem in resigning him and giving him the opportunity to prove that this season was a fluke, but $11.5 million is insane for a pitcher coming off his worst season of his career.

 

Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

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