Garcia not guaranteed to start Saturday

SAN DIEGO – The Cardinals will decide in the next day or so whether or not to let Jaime Garcia make his next scheduled start Saturday in Los Angeles.

Garcia allowed four runs, seven hits and three walks Monday night, continuing an ugly trend of poor performances away from the friendly confines of Busch Stadium. The left-hander has a 2.63 ERA at home this season compared to a 6.19 ERA on the road.

The Cardinals have lost seven of the last eight starts made by Garcia on the road and are deciding whether reworking the rotation to allow him to start at home might be a better idea for the short term.

“I think body language wise, he just seems to be a little bit more fidgety, more nervous at times when he’s on the road,” general manager John Mozeliak said before Tuesday’s game against the San Diego Padres.

“When we try to consider all the different angles, I think we have to try to put him in a position where he feels he can be successful.

“Everything just seems to be a bit slower and sluggish and that’s not good. … It does open up the door for discussions and that’s what we’ll do and try to do what’s best for this organization and this team moving forward and if that means putting someone else in the starting spot, that’s what we’ll do.”

The Cardinals would likely decide between rookies Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal to make Saturday’s start. One candidate will likely not be rehabbing starter Chris Carpenter, who Mozeliak said will stick to his current plan and throw another simulated game on Saturday instead.

Garcia’s next three starts are currently scheduled to be on the road but slotting in either Rosenthal or Miller would allow the Cardinals to start Garcia back at Busch Stadium on Tuesday against the Houston Astros.

“I still think he’s a capable starting pitcher but for some reason he has a difficulty when he gets on the road,” Mozeliak added. “I don’t feel like we have to make that decision tonight but its definitely something were going to talk about. … You have to go with who you think gives you the best chance of winning.”

The lefty has pitched an even 48 innings at home and on the road this year, but the difference in numbers is almost hard to believe. He’s allowed 33 earned runs on the road compared to just 14 at home. All six home runs he’s allowed have come away from Busch Stadium.

The comparisons are even more eye-popping in his five starts since coming off the disabled list. He’s allowed no earned runs in 15 1/3 innings in two home starts while giving up 14 earned runs in 14 1/3 innings in three road outings.

And his road problems extend beyond this season. Garcia has a career
4.69 ERA on the road compared to a 2.42 ERA at home. Opponents have a slugging percentage nearly 100 points higher against him on the road and an on-base percentage nearly 60 points higher.

Manager Mike Matheny, who met with Garcia Tuesday, called the left-hander’s road struggles baffling to all.

“It’s 60 feet, six inches, whether its California dirt or St. Louis,”
Matheny said. “It’s the same game. Emphasizing the kind of stuff that got him out of the bases loaded jam yesterday, not too many people have that. It’s all right there. To me it’s a pivotal point in his career and he’s had a few of these where it’s just gathering all the information and making the adjustments.”

Garcia has the largest difference in home-road ERA in all of baseball since he became a starter in 2010 and his 4.68 ERA on the road is the 5th worst in the National League since 2010 among pitchers with at least 35 road starts.

Asked for a reason why the performance is so drastically different, Mozeliak said, “I would surmise that it’s probably likely a mental component to this because when you look at him physically, you feel he’s capable of going out and competing and giving you good games.
Certainly that seems like a reasonable conclusion.

“He’s a key part of our future so we need to get this right.”