Garza's 2012 season in jeopardy

Matt Garza's injury is bad news for both the pitcher and the Cubs' front office. Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

As it turned out, the Cubs did lose three-fifths of their starting rotation in the month of July.

While Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm were traded, Matt Garza is possibly lost for the season with what has finally been diagnosed Monday as stress reaction in the back of his right elbow.

What was originally called a triceps cramp, then soreness, followed by Sunday’s trip to the disabled list, has seemingly been resolved with something more serious than what the Cubs thought they were dealing with when they were trying to move Garza before Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline.

As of now, the Cubs aren't officially saying that Garza is lost for the season, but with just two months remaining and nowhere to go for a rehab start after minor league seasons end in around a month, things aren’t looking good. He isn't expected to pick up a ball for at least two weeks.

Injured pitcher Blake Parker could provide a comparison. He also had a stress reaction in his elbow and last pitched June 1. He finally made a rehab appearance Monday at Triple-A Iowa in a relief role.

If Garza takes nine weeks to get back on a mound after his last appearance July 21 at St. Louis, that means he won’t be back until there are two weeks remaining in the season. It certainly doesn't give him enough time to get stretched out to be a starter.

Without much of a chance to prove himself, even his offseason trade value would seem to be limited at best. That is why general manager Jed Hoyer suggested to reporters on the road trip that the Cubs are now expecting Garza to be a member of the 2013 rotation.

It’s possible that Garza could be traded for prospects at next year’s non-waiver trade deadline, but since he will be a free agent following the 2013 season he will be viewed as a two-month rental and won’t have the value he did before his injury since he had an extra year of club control.

It's a tough blow for a new front office intent on rebuilding, as it didn't get maximum value on Ryan Dempster after he turned down a trade to the Atlanta Braves, and doesn't figure to max out on Garza either because of his current injury.