This time of the year in baseball everything is about best case scenarios, worst case scenarios and everything in between (the most likely of scenarios). The greater the range between the two, the greater the variables within it.
For instance, Player X could be MVP worthy if this and this goes right. But Player X could also cause huge problems if that and that goes wrong. Therefore, the gap between best case and worst case is quite large.
On the flip side, someone whose ceiling and floor isn't all that far apart - take Jake Westbrook as an example - offers consistency. You pretty much know what you're going to get.
Jaime Garcia defines the former. His best case scenario to the Cardinals - his ceiling - is so far above his worst case scenario - his floor - that it doesn't get much farther apart. He represents such a huge variable within the starting rotation that his success and/or failure could determine not only the season the pitching staff has, but also the team as a whole.
When the lefty is at his best, he's filthy. I mean, flat out disgusting on the mound. GM John Mozeliak says point blank he's got "swing and miss stuff" and they're "certainly better with him" healthy and pitching well.
Take his rookie season in 2010 when no one really knew what to expect. Heck, he wasn't even supposed to make the team out of spring training considering the Cards wanted to give that open starting job to Kyle McClellan. But Garcia refused to give in. He was the best pitcher in camp that year and continued it all season to the tune of a 2.70 ERA in 163 1/3 innings.
2011 saw a tad amount of, understandable, regression as he constructed a 3.56 ERA in 194 2/3 innings. Then last year he finished with a 3.92 ERA in 121 2/3 innings while missing a couple months with a shoulder injury.
Injuries have been a factor in his development. Focus has been a factor. I'm sure there's other factors involved as well that no one is publicly aware of.
The point here is those numbers represent averages. But you can't tell simply by looking at them how incredible he is at his best and how horrendous he can be at his worst. Taking everything together, sure, you see some solid if unspectacular numbers. In truth, you never really know what you're going to get with Garcia.
Now that Chris Carpenter is gone from the Redbirds rotation, likely forever, this organization is going to lean on him like its never done before. Take a look at the order these pitchers are throwing in this spring. Adam Wainwright went first. Garcia's second. Not Lance Lynn. Not Jake Westbrook. Not any of the kids competing for a spot in the rotation.
Garcia is your number two starting pitcher behind Adam Wainwright.
Should they receive the best case scenario, a healthy strike throwing bat breaker, that will mean wonders for this team. Should they receive the opposite? The worst case scenario? An unfocused and injured walk machine?
Well, I don't suppose I have to answer that.