The St. Louis Cardinals lost a heartbreaker in 19 innings Sunday, but 13 innings or so before that they were treated to some of the best pitching of Jaime Garcia's career. He struck out 10 without walking a batter—not bad for a guy who'd just spent two months on the disabled list with shoulder problems. Garcia's reappearance in the rotation comes with a month-or-so left in the season—just in time for him to be an Important Figure in the Cardinals' increasingly tough stretch run.
It's easy to forget: Jaime Garcia is probably the second-best pitcher in the Cardinals rotation. His career xFIP is 3.49, and despite ERA telling the opposite narrative his first season was probably his worst; he's been better since. He also pushes Joe Kelly into the intermittently beleaguered bullpen, which is great.
The integrity of his shoulder is an ongoing concern, as is his declining velocity, but right now he's left no doubt about his effectiveness. As long as his fastball is faster than his changeup, it seems like he'll be able to periodically strike out a bunch of Pirates.