Garcia worth the risk for the White Sox

Updated: August 17, 2009

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Phils took a chance on Pedro Martinez, and now the White Sox are taking one on Freddy Garcia.

Freddy Garcia is set to make his 2009 major-league debut for the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night. So why would the White Sox, in the thick of pennant race, hand the ball to a guy who's last big-league win was in September 2008?

Down the stretch, experience is really important. I'll still take talent over experience in general, but experience, especially in the late stages of a playoff drive, cannot be duplicated. And to have a guy who's pitched in a pennant race before -- and Freddy Garcia has -- is a big thing. Nerves and pressure can get in the way for a lot of players and teams going through a playoff fight, so to have a guy who has been up and down as much as Garcia has been over the course of his career is a plus.

He understands the highs and lows of the game just about as much as anyone in recent years. If he is interested in pitching long-term, this late-season push with Chicago is a good place to start. It's a good move for the White Sox. Even thought they've played a bit better lately, they are still behind Detroit in the AL Central. To pick up a veteran pitcher and see what he has left in the arm at this point is a really good idea.

You see what Pedro Martinez did with Philadelphia last week in his first start and you have to be optimistic. Now, Garcia has never been in the same class as Martinez, but in this stage of their careers there are parallels. They are both veteran guys who should be able to give you five solid innings here and there, and that's all the White Sox are looking for. So it's worth a try.

Once Jake Peavy is back in action in a few weeks, Garcia could very well get squeezed out of the starting rotation. Jose Contreras, who has been there a lot longer and has been pitching all season, probably has the inside track for the regular job as Chicago's fifth starter. You have to think that his experience this year will help him, but, at the same time, I'm never fully convinced that Contreras will end up being quite good enough when he needs to be. He's been pretty disappointing at times this season, so if Garcia impresses even a little he could get the job. That's what the last two months are all about. Teams are looking for a hot hand to get them through. It's a classic case of whatever it takes.

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TOUCH 'EM ALL

Touch 'Em AllWho went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page.

For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.

Home Run Tracker
NAME HR OPPSITUATION
Mark Reynolds, ARI38LoganTop 7: 0-0, 2 Outs. 1 on.
Prince Fielder, MIL31HartTop 4: 1-0, 0 Outs. None on.
Kendry Morales, LAA26HernandezTop 2: 3-2, 1 Out. 1 on.
Joe Mauer, MIN23HunterTop 1: 2-1, 2 Outs. None on.

The complete list of Monday's homers

ON DECK: TUESDAY'S BEST MATCHUPS

Mariners at Tigers, 7 p.m. ET

Rick Porcello returns to the mound after serving his five-game suspension for hitting the Red Sox's Kevin Youkilis. He has beaten Seattle in both his starts this year. Felix Hernandez, meanwhile, has had the same results against Detroit, defeating the Tigers both times he's seen them this year.

Red Sox at Blue Jays, 7 p.m. ET

Josh Becket is 7-1 over his past 10 starts. In his past three outings for the Red Sox, he has permitted only two runs in 21 innings. Ricky Romero has had a fine rookie season, just not against the Red Sox. Romero is 0-2, giving up nine runs and 10 walks in 8 1/3 innings against Boston.

Cardinals at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. ET

Chad Billingsley is coming off 10 days' rest. He's been nursing an injured hamstring. He was knocked around three starts ago by the Cardinals, serving up six runs in 4 2/3 innings of a 10-0 St. Louis win. His control remains an issues; he's fourth in the NL in walks, having handed out 66 so far this year.

For the rest of Tuesday's schedule, click here.

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BBTN ON THE AIR: TUESDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
10 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Steve Levy
Analysts: John Kruk, Peter Gammons, Fernando Vina
12 a.m. ET
ESPN
Host: J.W. Stewart
Analysts: John Kruk, Fernando Vina

BBTN MINUTE: STRASBURG SIGNS

SIMON SAYS

Simon Says ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.

Tonight, he looks at Albert Pujols, who hit yet another homer in a 3-2 win against the Dodgers. The blast tied Pujols with St. Louis native Yogi Berra for career home runs, though Pujols did it a lot more quickly.

Albert Pujols vs. Yogi Berra
Pujols Berra
BA .334 .285
HR 358 358
RBI 1,082 1,430
Seasons 9 19
World Series titles 1 10

WEB GEMS

MONDAY'S BEST AND WORST

BEST
Vladimir Guerrero• Perhaps it's time to stop wondering what's wrong with Vladimir Guerrero. His missing power appears to have returned. Guerrero went deep twice and drove home five runs in the Angels' 8-5 win over Baltimore. That was his second two-homer game in seven days.
WORST
Livan Hernandez• The Mets had a bad day, and it all started with Livan Hernandez. The right-hander gave up single runs in the third, fourth and fifth against the Giants. Oh, he wasn't done, though. He gave up three more in the sixth in a 10-1 loss for the Mets. Hernandez's final numbers -- 5 1/3 innings, 11 hits, six runs.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

Tim Lincecum Tim Lincecum is putting together a season that is shaping up to be even better than 2008's Cy Young Award-winning campaign.

His ERA is down. His strikeouts per nine innings are up (and walks per nine innings are down.) And he's doing it all with one of the most devastating changeups in baseball.

More than half of Lincecum's strikeouts have come on his changeup. He's also holding batters to a .211 batting average on his change, well below the league average of .245, and a slugging percentage of .152, more than 200 points lower than the league average of .391.

Lincecum and the Giants take on the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday, and the Reds are hitting .245 with a .397 slugging percentage against changeups, right around the major league average.

Tim Lincecum
2009 changeup statistics and ranks
Lincecum MLB rank
Strikeouts 108 1
Miss pct. 45.3 2
Chase pct. 49.8 2

-- ESPN Stats & Information

FANTASY: PREVIEW OF TUESDAY'S GAMES

Adam Madison examines the 15 games on Tuesday's slate.

Fantasy Madison ranks the pitchers scheduled to take the mound and supplies loads of other information that could help shape your roster for Tuesday. Daily Notes