Matt Garza enters 2017 in a contract year, something both sides will no doubt be happy about. The two worst seasons of Garza's career have come on the hapless Brewers squads of the past two years. In that span, Garza has allowed a brutal 5.18 ERA and 34 home runs over 250.1 innings with a sub-2.0 K/BB. Garza's velocity was at its lowest average ever last year at 92.2 mph, but that's still within a point of his career norm. At 33 years old, it's entirely possible Garza has simply run out of gas. His swinging-strike rate has dropped to 7.8 percent the past two seasons. Perhaps the only reason to believe in a Garza renaissance is the possibility of a trade should he show well to begin the season -- Garza desperately wants to play for a contender, and Milwaukee won't be one in 2017.
Garza owns a 6.57 ERA, 2.11 WHIP, and 5:6 K:BB in 12.1 innings over five appearances this spring. Garza has hardly had a productive spring, but he is due $12.5 million in 2017, so he still has a shot to break camp with a spot in the starting rotation. He is coming off his best outing of the spring, one in which he gave up just one earned run over 3.2 innings, but he did allow the opponent to average over two baserunners per inning for the fourth straight outing.
Garza (6-8) allowed three runs on six hits and a walk with three strikeouts over six innings to beat the Rangers on Monday. Garza's performance looks particularly good in context, against one of the American League's best lineups in one of the majors' toughest parks for pitchers. He has allowed a solid 2.97 ERA with a 31:10 K:BB over 33.1 innings in his last six starts and is generating some solid momentum heading into 2017.
Garza (5-8) allowed five runs on eight hits and two walks with three strikeouts over just four innings in a loss Tuesday to the Pirates. Garza had allowed just three earned runs in his past four starts, good for a 1.16 ERA, but that was somewhat deceptive. He had allowed 12 runs total including four home runs in those four starts. The PIrates didn't homer off Garza Tuesday night, but they did manage three doubles among their eight hits. Garza has a poor 67:35 K:BB and his ERA is now up to 4.52.
Garza (5-7) allowed five runs, although only one earned, on eight hits and three strikeouts over five innings against the Reds on Tuesday, taking the loss. Garza's night started off shaky as he gave up a first-inning homer to Joey Votto. His troubles continued in the third, although it wasn't really his fault, as the Reds committed a pair of errors, leading to a four-run inning. Unfortunately the Brewers' defensive struggles Tuesday are nothing new, as they lead the majors in errors in 2016 with 122. Garza has now gone four straight starts allowing no more than one earned run, although the eight hits were more than he'd allowed the previous two starts combined. His ERA sits at 4.22 despite a 1.48 WHIP.
Garza held the Cubs to a single run on three hits and two walks over six innings Wednesday. He struck out six and received no decision. The Brewers actually went on to beat their first-place division opponents, but Garza left with the game tied thanks to a solo homer by Anthony Rizzo with two outs in the sixth inning. Garza's turned in two sparkling outings in a row against strong opposition in the Cards and Cubs, but his record has been marked by brutal inconsistency, so you can't expect him to keep it up. He'll draw another division opponent in the Reds on Tuesday.