Time to Sell Matt Garza

Many people think that Matt Garza’s start Wednesday will be his last in a Cubs uniform. Over the last 12+ months Garza has only made 11 starts for the Cubs due to an elbow issue last season and a lat problem that cropped up in Spring Training this year.

When Garza’s name gets brought up, it’s usually followed by conversation about how he’s a big game pitcher and that his post season experience make him more valuable. Truth be told, he doesn’t have a great post season record. He’s made 5 post season starts in his career, all while with the Tampa Bay Rays. He made 4 starts in the 2008 post season and one start in the 2010 post season. His post season record is 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA, a 1.29 WHIP with a 22% strikeout percentage and a 10.6% walk rate. The strikeout rate is 2 percentage points higher than his career rate, and his walk rate is 2 percentage points above his career walk rate. A scary sign, to me, is that he’s given up 5 post season home runs, which comes out to 3.8% of the batters he’s faced in the post season. There’s a whole lot to not like about that. That’s a 32% increase over his career HR percentage.

All that to say, maybe he’s not as much of a big game pitcher or a post season asset as people would like to think. And by people I mean the Cubs fans that are clamoring for the some team to trade away 14 of their top 10 prospects for Garza. Let’s be realistic. Garza is a valuable starter who I believe will help a team make a post season run. But I don’t think he’s a guy that any team should mortgage their future for.

Something to note for teams who are looking for him to help them down the stretch. His highest ERA, by month is a 4.36 ERA for his career in the months of September and October. His September/October WHIP is also higher than any other month.

Don’t get me wrong, I would imagine that someone with Garza’s skill set and track record would be able to fetch a fairly handsome return at the upcoming trade deadline. I don’t see Garza stepping in and leading a contending team’s rotation, but I think he could be a valuable number 2 or 3 starter on a championship team.

Where does he fit into your fantasy team? His last 4 outings have been bananas. He’s run off 3 straight starts where he’s given up just 1 or fewer earned runs. Granted, the first 3 of those were starts against the Mets, Astros and Brewers, but Wednesday’s start was against a tough Oakland lineup. He’s striking out just a tick under 1 batter per inning, but he is walking 2.4 batters per 9 over that 4 game stretch. If he does stick with the Cubs for another start, he’ll face the White Sox. He hasn’t had a whole lot of success against the South siders. He’s 2-3 in his 7 career starts against the White Sox with a 4.70 ERA and 1.513 WHIP.

If I owned Matt Garza, I would be selling him. He hasn’t had a stretch that has equalled his last 4 starts since August and September of 2010. And that’s the only other time in his career that he’s done that. Join the Cubs in capitalizing on Matt Garza’s amazing last 4 starts. If you could swap him for Mat Latos, Jeff Locke or Julio Teheran, go for it.

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