Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Garza showed glimpses of the form the Brewers are expecting on Sunday. Garza had struggled mightily to a hideous 19.06 ERA over his first three Spring Training starts. The Brewers’ right-hander had given up 17 runs (12 earned) in just 5.2 innings prior to his most recent outing against the Cincinnati Reds.
On Sunday, Garza started to show some mid-season form, striking out six in as many innings. Garza regularly threw around 94 mph, while scattering four hits and offering up a pair of walks. The result meant a first win of Spring Training and nearly halved Garza’s ERA to 10.03.
Frankly, it is crazy after just three outings for some fans to hit the panic button. However, after several expensive and ineffective pitching free agents in recent memory, Jeff Suppan and Randy Wolf to name a few, it can be understood.
Garza, fortunately, was in a far more relaxed frame of mind commenting:
"“You’ve seen I stick to my plan pretty well. When the bell rings, I’ll be ready. I’ve said that over and over, and for some reason, there’s a cloud of doubt.”"
The Brewers have invested heavily in Garza, 4 years for $52 million, hoping to support strong pitching by the rest of the rotation in the second half of 2013. Yovani Gallardo (2.45 ERA) and Marco Estrada (2.70 ERA) have shown mid-season form so far this spring. Gallardo in particular by in grabbing the Opening Day start. I certainly thought his run would end this season, but he is starting to demonstrate his ability to deal with a fall in velocity.
It is only one quality start for Garza, but as we approach the end of Spring Training his performances are heading the right direction, while Kyle Lohse and Wily Peralta are trending in the wrong direction.
However, we won’t truly know until the first pitches are thrown in anger, but I expect the Brewers rotation to be one of the best in the National League. All five members of the starting rotation have the potential to post an ERA under 4.00. The ultimate question is, will enough of them achieve it and drive the Brewers into the playoff picture?