Cubs vs. Pirates Preview, Tuesday 5/21, 6:05 CT: Matt Garza's Back!

Jamie Squire

10 months in the making, the Cubs righthander returns to a major-league mound. Let's hope his health, and talent, are what they were before last year's injury. (And look above. That's definitely Matt Garza's back.)

Perhaps I'm making too much of the return of Matt Garza to the Cubs' starting rotation, but it seems to me that this could make or break much of the rest of the season, if not beyond.

If Garza returns to his previous form, clearly, other teams will come calling around the trading deadline. What do you do then? Swap him for prospects? Or, if he's good enough, offer him a contract extension?

I'm honestly not sure what the answer is, and before Garza has thrown a single pitch this season, it's obviously too early to tell. So the answer has to be: a poll! Vote below.

As expected, Michael Bowden was designated for assignment to make room for Garza on the 25-man roster. Bowden's 40-man roster spot has been taken by Eduardo Sanchez, claimed on waivers from the Cardinals earlier today. Bowden could be traded, but most likely he's waived and outrighted to Iowa, although as a player who has previously been outrighted, he could refuse that assignment.

Cubs lineup:

Borbon CF, Castro SS, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Hairston RF, Castillo C, Ransom 3B, Barney 2B, Garza P

Good opportunity for Julio Borbon here -- starting and leading off against a lefthander.

Pirates lineup:

Tabata LF, Walker 2B, McCutchen CF, Jones RF, Martin C, Alvarez 3B, Sanchez 1B, Barmes SS, Rodriguez P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Matt Garza

Matt Garza


Cubs

vs. Wandy Rodriguez

Wandy Rodriguez


Pirates

vs. Pit

--

vs. Cubs


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Wandy Rodriguez 4-2 9 8 0 0 0 0 44.1 38 17 16 8 9 32 3.25 1.06

Matt Garza made four very good rehab starts and says he's ready to go. He hasn't pitched in a major-league game since last July, and his last start in Pittsburgh, May 27, 2012, is best not talked about. (Don't say I didn't warn you.) Still, a healthy and productive Garza will solidify both the rotation and the bullpen, with Carlos Villanueva shifting to relief. Let's hope it works out that way.

Wandy Rodriguez is having another typical Wandy Rodriguez season, which is to say: he never looks spectacular, but usually finds ways to win. He's already faced the Cubs once this year, April 3 in Pittsburgh, when he threw 6⅔ shutout innings. This game could be a low-scoring affair.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago.

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Pirates site Bucs Dugout.

Here's the scoop on game threads for 2013. You'll find the game preview -- like this one -- posting as the first link in the StoryStream™, which will then contain all the overflow threads and the recap. The recap will also be on the front page as a separate post; once I post a game recap, the stream for each game will be retitled "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.

In general, game previews will post two hours before game time. Exception: for day games after night games, that will usually be 90 minutes.

You will also be able to find the First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in this StoryStream™. As I've done for each regular-season game for several years now, we'll have the First Pitch thread at five minutes before game time (moved up from actual game time per your requests), then an overflow one hour, two hours and 2:45 after game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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