The Cubs understand Matt Garza may be a valuable trade chip when the July 31 trade deadline approaches, but the 29-year-old right-hander has been adamant about focusing solely on making the Cubs better right now with his starts.
Through six starts, that has included plenty of ups-and-downs. He'll look to form some consistency this afternoon when the Cubs begin a three-game home set with the Houston Astros on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 12:30 with Cubs Pregame Live, hosted by David Kaplan and Todd Hollandsworth.
After missing the first month and a half of the 2013 season with a lat strain, Garza returned to the mound in impressive fashion, throwing five shutout innings in a no-decision on the road against the Reds. Garza made his return to Wrigley Field on May 31 and tossed seven innings of two-run baseball in a win over the first-place Diamondbacks, but the hiccups returned when he allowed 13 earned runs in his first two June starts (6.1 IP, 4 ER at Los Angeles Angels; 5.0 IP, 9 ER vs. Cincinnati). But Garza righted the ship once again last week, throwing seven shutout innings in New York--he would have picked up his second win of the season before Carlos Marmol's implosion.
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So now Garza looks for some consistency in his 2013 campaign. Whether it's an audition to play for a contender in October or a chance for the Cubs to pick up a win and move out of the cellar in the NL Central, no one wants to see a solid outing from Garza this afternoon than himself.
And while there are questions about Garza's future in Chicago, that's not the case for Starlin Castro, who will look to break out of a June funk that has seen him bat just .127, including a 2-for-34 stretch and a current 1-for-16 stretch over the last four games. Castro and manager Dale Sveum admit the shortstop has struggled mightily in 2013, but a home series against the Astros may be what does the trick to break him out of it.
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Castro is batting .247 at Wrigley Field this season, still a below-average mark but far better than his .216 average away from the Friendly Confines. Houston starter Dallas Keuchel takes the mound for the Astros, and while he's pitched well in June (2-1, 1.96 ERA) Castro is a career .324 hitter against left-handed pitching. The Astros have the MLB's worst team ERA (4.60) and the 29th worst bullpen (4.59 ERA), so there may be a chance, too, for Castro to come through in the clutch and break out of his massive slump.
The action begins this afternoon at 12:30 with Cubs Pregame Live, and Kap and Holly will have Postgame Live after the final out is recorded. Stay interactive all afternoon as well, using #CubsTalk on Twitter and checking out Cubs Pulse.