After a win on May 16th, Matt Garza was 4-2 with a 3.67 ERA and looking like he was picking up right where he left off last year down the stretch run for the Rays. Since then however, wins have been tough to come by for Garza as he is 2-5 in his last ten starts despite a 3.94 ERA. I have already covered the run support issues that James Shields has had this year but Matt Garza is not too far behind Shields in the complaint department as Garza has received just under four runs per game when he has pitched this season.
A close look at the splits in Garza’s stats since his start on May 16th show the problem. His ERA has gone up despite improving his strikeout to walk ratio and stranding more runners. His problems in his last ten starts are all around the longball. In his first eight starts, Garza surrendered five homers in the 58 flyballs he permitted in that stretch – a 9% HR/FB rate. In his last ten starts, he has permitted ten homers in the 64 flyballs he has given up – a 16% HR/FB rate. The average starting pitcher’s HR/FB rate is close to 10% and Garza has been 9% for his career. In his start tonight, he was cruising through six shutout innings before allowing a single to Bobby Crosby and then serving up a homerun to the very light-hitting Rajai Davis. Garza stayed in for Mark Ellis who singled and chased Garza with a no-decision until Adam Kennedy took Randy Choate deep on the first pitch to saddle Garza with the loss.
As you can see, Garza’s outs have not changed much this season, so hopefully a regression in his HR/FB rate will help him earn some more wins in the second half. The rest of his skills are right where everyone expected them to be so it is by no means a time to panic with Garza. Once he gets his homers under control, a good Matt Garza can become a great Matt Garza.