Matt Garza picked a good time to start pitching well. At least from the Cubs’ perspective. Buster Olney reports that the Cubs are “making progress” on talks with multiple teams for the services of their starter, including Texas, Boston, Toronto, Cleveland, the Dodgers “and maybe Baltimore.” Olney adds that “a couple of more teams in the NL West” could be interested in Garza too.
Since a disaster start on June 11 in which he gave up nine runs Garza — whom Olney refers to as “the belle of the ball” and which should thus be his new nickname going forward — has allowed one or zero runs in four straight outings, all of which lasted seven innings or longer. Those starts haven’t come against the staunchest competition — the Mets, Astros, Brewers and A’s — but solid is solid and this is July and teams often take a “what have you done lately” approach in July.
It’s all about health now. Garza was the belle of the ball at last year’s trade deadline too. Then he got hurt and that was that for his marketability.
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.