Matt Garza threw five very strong innings for the Cubs Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, allowing just one hit and three walks. He probably could have gone another inning, having been removed at 82 pitches, but Dale Sveum decided to err on the side of caution and lifted Garza (obviously, the result of the game wasn't what anyone wanted, but that's not an argument for this post).
The question now is, what should the Cubs do with Garza? He'll be a free agent at the end of the 2013 season. He'll turn 30 in November -- he's two months younger than Edwin Jackson. Before his Cubs tenure, which has been interrupted by several DL stints, he was a consistent starter for the Rays, making at least 30 starts a year from 2008-10.
Of course, one start doesn't make a season, but Garza seems quite determined to prove he can still be a solid starter in the major leagues. Naturally, impending free agency will do this to a player, but Garza also has a strongly competitive personality which shows in everything he does. That can be valuable to a team; Garza hung out with the club almost all of last year after he was placed on the DL, supporting his teammates.
I'm still not sure which choice I'd make; I posted a poll like this in Tuesday's game preview, but I'm posting it again, because perhaps you've changed your mind after Tuesday's performance. I think I still lean towards "trade", because he's going to get quite expensive if he keeps pitching the way he did in that first outing. At the very least, he'd have to be given a qualifying offer (in order to get draft compensation if he leaves); that could wind up being in the $14 million range.
Anyway, I thought this was worth a separate post and discussing before we get to Wednesday night's game, and since the recap to Tuesday's game has been mostly about the bad bullpen management.