Last week the Cardinals announced that they were shutting down Jaime Garcia in an effort to limit the 23-year-old rookie’s workload after he threw just 38 innings last season while coming back from Tommy John surgery, but now they’re apparently rethinking those plans.
Garcia will be skipped in the rotation Thursday for the second straight time, but manager Tony La Russa told Charlie Nobles of MLB.com that “there are a couple of places next week where he could fit in” to make a start.
For his part, Garcia would welcome the chance to pitch again this season despite already logging 163.1 innings:
I’m ready to go. I threw a side [session] yesterday and felt fine. I’m just waiting to see what decision they make. I’m not going to lie to you, I was feeling a little tired. But that was just like everybody else. Nobody was feeling 100 percent like you do in spring training.
I’m not really sure what there is to gain by squeezing in another start or two from Garcia with Cool Standings pegging the Cardinals’ playoff odds at 3.1 percent, although perhaps it could help his case with Rookie of the Year voters.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.