Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Today we project veteran Matt Garza. Of the Brewers 2015 starters, Garza has spent the least time in the organization and is our projected number 3, though he may jump teammate Wily Peralta in the team’s actual rotation.
Garza signed with the Crew late in January 2014 to a four-year, $50 million deal, the biggest free agent signing in Brewers history. He was coming off of a career-average season, which he began with the Cubs before being shipped to the Rangers.
Garza owns a career 3.81 ERA and works well as a middle-of-the-rotation guy with some upside. In 2011 Garza posted a 3.32 ERA over 198 innings, making him easily the statistical ace of the Cubs that year.
Garza has failed to repeat that performance in many aspects, not posting a sub-3.50 ERA or starting 30 games since. That said, Garza was a valuable commodity with the Brewers for 2014, posting a 3.64 ERA (3.54 FIP) over 163 1/3 innings and earning a 2.5 fWAR, which led the rotation.
As usual, our ERA projection is based on the averages of our writers:
GS 28 IP 170 ERA 3.77 FIP 3.84 xFIP 3.95 WHIP 1.200 H/9 8.0 HR/9 1.0 GB% 42.2% BB/9 2.8 K/9 7.3 K/BB 2.61
Every year since 2012 Garza has increased his innings pitched, but it would be irresponsible given his injury history to assume he will make 30 starts in 2015. Our projections have Garza being just better than league average among MLB starters, which is reasonable for a 2-3 starter surrounded by similar talents.
I anticipate an increase in Garza’s strikeout rate over 2014, which would end a three year streak of decline. I would be surprised if these numbers continued to drop which would eventually result in loss of effectiveness. He is no longer a candidate to strikeout 200 batters a year, but he has shown that he doesn’t need to in order to be successful.
This seems as good a time as any to give the Brewers praise for their signing of Garza last year. Over this offseason, Ervin Santana signed with the Twins on a four-year, $54 million deal. Obviously this is slightly larger than Garza’s deal, but MLB’s free agent salary inflation has been swift, so let’s call them equal.
While Santana has been much healthier than Garza in recent years, he has been much more inconsistent, seeming to bounce between a #2 starter and #5 level starter ever other year.
The Twins have received criticism for this deal, while the Brewers’ deal with Garza seemed more reasonable. Five years from now I imagine this will be even more evident.
A quarter of the way through Garza’s base deal, he has performed as advertised, if not better. We at Reviewing the Brew anticipate a continuation of this trend, with Garza holding down the middle of the rotation with strong numbers in 2015.
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