Home > Rays Talk > Matt Garza Must Emerge as Staff Ace in 2010

Matt Garza Must Emerge as Staff Ace in 2010

I vividly remember fan reactions when Delmon Young was dealt for Matt Garza.

One friend told me, “Dude, the Rays just made the dumbest trade in history.”

Sure, there were other players involved, but at that time, Garza for Young seemed to be the focus of the deal.

Many did not understand. Mainly because they had no idea who Matt Garza was. They didn’t know that he was a first round draft pick, or that he won the USA Today Minor League Player of the Year Award in 2006.

To them, it was another case of The Rays trading top talent for nothing.

But the real baseball fans in Tampa Bay knew all about Matt Garza. And I, for one, was ecstatic when I heard the news.

His signs of brilliance in his first big league season in 2008–especially in August and September–was anything but a surprise to me. Hearing, “You were right about this guy” never got old.

But after a step sideways last year, I was left wondering if he could truly be an ace.

Now, his third year, it’s time for him to put it all together. We all know what he can do when he’s on. But we also know what he can do when he’s off. He has been criticized in the past for being mentally weak.

So, why am I singling out Matt Garza? The answer is in his makeup.

There is no question he has the most electric stuff on the staff and perhaps in all of the American League. His increase in K/9IP (6.2 in 2008 to 8.4 in 2009) shows that he’s only getting better.

But what about the others?

There’s no doubt that James Shields is a horse. He is durable, competitive, and good for a solid 200+ innings a year. But at age 28, I feel like he has hit his ceiling, and he’s as good as he’s going to get. Not that that’s a bad thing.

As for Niemann, Davis and Price, they will have their chances to shine. I am just not ready to rely on any of them as aces just yet.

But Garza has what it takes right now. And if he breaks out, he has the chance to be the guy for the Rays in 2010, and put the team in position for another trip to the fall classic.

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