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.
With a 6-1 win over the Twins in Sunday’s season finale, the Royals clinched the best record in the American League, which nets them home field advantage in the ALDS and ALCS. The Royals stand at 95-67 while the Blue Jays, who lost on Sunday, finish at 93-69.
95-67 is the Royals’ best record since finishing 97-65 in 1980, when they lost the World Series to the Phillies. Their division title is their first since 1985.
In the ALDS, which starts on Thursday, the Royals will host the winner of the AL Wild Card game between the Astros and Yankees. They are looking to avenge last year’s World Series loss, in seven games, to the Giants. The Blue Jays will host the Rangers in the other ALDS series.
Both the Astros’ and the Yankees’ fates were decided before their own games had completed on Sunday. The Rangers defeated the Angels, which clinched a Wild Card spot for the Astros. Then the Astros dropped Sunday’s season finale to the Diamondbacks, which clinched the first AL Wild Card slot for the Yankees. The Yankees are on their way to a loss against the Orioles as of this writing, but that will not affect anything now.
The Astros were in a 3-3 tie with the Diamondbacks in the seventh inning, but reliever Chad Qualls served up a two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt. That would prove to be the deciding factor in a 5-3 loss.
The Yankees are losing 7-4 to the Orioles behind a subpar start by Michael Pineda and a shaky performance by the bullpen.
The MLB postseason opens up with the Yankees hosting the Astros on Tuesday in the AL Wild Card game. The winner moves on to face the Royals in Kansas City in the ALDS.