With every Matt Garza start comes the speculation that it could be his last as a Chicago Cub.
Garza has been red hot over his last five outings, surrendering just four earned runs over 37 innings. While the Cubs have talked about a possible contract extension, Garza is a candidate to be dealt before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"Obviously, he's throwing extremely well and he's very healthy and there are teams out there looking for pitching who are going to call and try to acquire him," said Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. "For us, he's helping us win games now. There's a chance to possibly retain him beyond this year, so we'll just balance all that out and do what's best for the organization."
For the second straight year, the Cubs expect to be sellers rather than buyers at the Trade Deadline.
"We wanted to be buyers this year," Epstein said. "With a few breaks, this year, we could've been in a much different situation. Some one-run games early change, and different bullpen situations [we'd have different results]. The goal every year is to be in position where you're looking to add and have a strong pennant push."
But in the meantime, Garza remains a Cub and is slated to take the mound Saturday against the first-place Cardinals. Garza has given up five hits or fewer in six of his 10 starts this season and is coming off a a two-run, five-hit performance against the White Sox on Monday.
Starting opposite Garza is Lance Lynn, who will be looking to tie teammate Adam Wainwright and Washington's Jordan Zimmermann with a National League-best 12th win. Lynn limited the Marlins to two runs on seven hits and a walk in his last outing. He expanded his arsenal in that start, mixing in a slider, cutter and sinker with his four-seam fastball and changeup. His sinker has been a work in progress this season.
"I haven't had the feel for it in the strike zone that I would have liked," Lynn said. "Now, it's starting to be a very useful pitch."
Lynn has lost one of his seven career appearances against the Cubs and has a 2.52 ERA through 39 1/3 innings versus the NL Central rival.
Cardinals: Holliday, Molina limping into All-Star break
The All-Star break is coming at a good time for St. Louis, with two of its stars hobbled as the first half comes to a close.
Catcher Yadier Molina has been in and out of the lineup with inflammation in his right knee, the same knee he had surgically repaired in 2007, while Matt Holliday pulled up with a right hamstring injury while running out a ground ball Thursday night. An MRI revealed no structural damage in Molina's knee, and while the All-Star catcher started Friday against the Cubs, the Cardinals are continuing to monitor him heading into the break.
"Every day it's getting better," Molina said. "Being a catcher is a tough position. You won't be 100 percent every day, and right now, my knee is getting better every day that goes by."
The Cardinals are hoping Holliday can avoid a stint on the disabled list. He underwent a round of therapy Friday and is day to day.
"He's definitely better today than he was [Thursday night], which is a good sign," said manager Mike Matheny. "They gave him just a clinical evaluation with our trainers and they were all very pleased with the progression."
Cubs: Top picks signs with Chicago
Kris Bryant, the second overall pick in the 2013 Draft, finalized his contact with the Cubs on Friday.
The third baseman agreed to a $6.7 million signing bonus and will report to Chicago's facility in Mesa, Ariz., before being assigned to a Minor League club.
"Once we get a feel for his conditioning, we'll figure out exactly what the right path is," said Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer. "Certainly, he'll start out at the very low levels [in the Minors]. We're hopeful he can move quickly through those."
Catcher Will Remillard, the Cubs 19th-round pick, also signed Friday. The Cubs have signed 24 of their 40 2013 Draft picks.
• Cardinals rookie starter Shelby Miller won't make another start before the All-Star break. Miller threw a regular bullpen session Friday and will throw side sessions before and after the break.
"Not pitching for about two weeks is not the easiest thing to do," Miller said, "but I've got a lot of time to work on things and work my way back into the bottom of the zone and work on my offspeed pitches."
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.