Chicago may not be a wallflower and instead a new contender in the NL Central. Zack Greinke will not be the only great AL pitcher coming to the NL Central for the 2011 season as reports indicate a deal has been made sending Matt Garza to the Cubs. Chicago is sending their minor league pitcher of the year, Chris Archer, their minor league player of the year, outfielder Brandon Guyer, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, catcher Robinson Chirinos, and 2009 out-of-nowhere star/fan favorite outfielder Sam Fuld to Tampa for Garza and two minor leaguers.
Garza instantly becomes the Cubs best starter makes their rotation much more formidable although the back end still has some question marks. Will Carlos Silva pitch like he did the first half of 2010? Will Gorzellany be effective? Can Randy Wells pitch at replacement level? Can Tom Diamond step-up and pitch like he did in Triple-A? Is Cashner as good as his hype? Regardless of the answers surrounding Chicago’s fifth spot, I assume between the candidates they will end up with a serviceable guy to round out the unit. And as long as Zambrano pitches decent, they’ll have an above average rotation. However, they still only boast the 4th best in a pitching-heavy NL Central.
1. St. Louis: Wainwright, Carpenter, Garcia, Westbrook, Lohse
2. Cinncinnati: Arroyo, Volquez, Cueto, Wood, Leake
3. Milwaukee: Gallardo, Greinke, Marcum, Randy Wolf, Chris Narveson
4. Chicago: Carlos Zambrano, Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Carlos Silva, Wells/Gorzellany/Diamond/Cashner
5. Houston: Myers, Rodriguez, Happ, Norris, Figueroa/Rowland-Smith
6. Pittsburgh: Kevin Correia, Paul Maholm, Russ Ohlendorf, Charlie Morton, James McDonald
2011 is shaping up as one of the potentially most competitive races the NL Central has seen in a very long time. Pitching is a big reason why. And you can’t have a captivating NL Central race without the Cubs somewhat involved. And they (or anyone) will only be involved in the divisional race with a strong starting rotation. Matt Garza gets them much closer.