The Chicago Cubs expect to have Matt Garza back in the starting rotation next week. Garza has not pitched in the majors this season after suffering tightness in his side along with arm issues during spring training.
Garza, 29, should rejoin the rotation during the team's series against the Pirates, reports Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune. That series will take place from Tuesday to Thursday.
Garza has pitched in four minor league games between Double-A and Triple-A on a minor league rehab assignment. He has thrown a total of 15.1 innings and allowed just two runs with an 11:4 K:BB ratio. He has been easing into a heavier workload with his Thursday outing lasting six innings on 75 pitches.
If the Cubs were to keep him on the standard four days of rest between starts, Garza would be scheduled to pitch on Tuesday. However, the team currently has Carlos Villanueva and Jeff Samardzija scheduled to pitch on Tuesday and Wednesday. No starter has been announced for Thursday yet, but Edwin Jackson is lined up to start that day.
The Cubs could certainly move someone back and they will need to remove a member of the rotation to accomodate Garza. The team will have a tough choice with Samardzija, Villanueva, Scott Feldman, and Travis Wood all pitching well. Edwin Jackson has been the worst of the five starters this season, but as a high priced free agent signing he will likely not be taken out of a starting role anytime soon. Villanueva and Feldman both have extensive experience in the bullpen.
Whoever is removed from the rotation may be back in a starting role sooner than later. It has been heavily rumored that Garza will be dangled as a trade candidate by the Cubs as the MLB trade deadline looms in a little over two months. The Cubs are currently 4th in the NL Central with a 17-23 record.
The Cubs acquired Garza prior to the 2011 season, trading away Hak-Ju Lee, Chris Archer, Sam Fuld, and two others to the Tampa Bay Rays for the right hander. Lee and Archer are both currently top prospects in the Rays' system and were ranked in the top 100 prospects league-wide by Baseball America.