Matt Garza – FIPman Redux

It was nearly one year ago to the day that I wrote about Matt Garza of the Chicago Cubs here at Getting Blanked. Last year, Garza posted great numbers in his first month in Chicago but couldn’t buy a break. His strikeout rates were through the roof and his batted balls were kind, staying either on the ground on or in the ballpark.

One year later (for an even worse Cubs team), Garza is pitching great once again. But this time around, his team is reaping the benefits in the win column, winning three of his first five starts.

Matt Garza finished up 2011 with strong numbers across the board. His ERA came down and his FIP came up but he still notched 5 fWAR for the year. The Cubs were downright Cubbish, however; only winning 16 of his 30 starts.

Fastforward to 2012 – Garza’s line through 5 starts looks alarmingly similar, as you can see below.

2011

2012

Rk Date Opp Rslt Inngs Dec IP H R BB SO HR HBP ERA BF Pit Str StL StS GB FB LD PU GSc
1 Apr 7 WSN L,4-7 GS-6 6.0 5 2 1 5 1 0 3.00 23 91 58 8 17 9 8 3 1 58
2 Apr 12 MIL W,8-0 GS-9 W(1-0) 8.2 3 0 2 9 0 0 1.23 31 119 83 29 15 10 10 3 2 85
3 Apr 18 @ MIA L,1-9 GS-6 L(1-1) 5.0 7 6 3 7 2 0 3.66 24 92 55 24 9 5 9 1 2 33
4 Apr 23 STL W,3-2 GS-7 7.0 4 2 3 5 0 1 3.38 27 108 65 16 6 8 10 5 1 63
5 Apr 29 @ PHI W,5-1 GS-7 W(2-1) 7.0 1 0 1 10 0 0 2.67 22 103 68 21 11 6 5 0 3 84
33.2 20 10 10 36 3 1 2.67 127
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/30/2012.

Garza might not feature the gaudy strikeout total of last April, he is pitching so efficiently his statline looks worse in comparison. Last year the K/9 near 12 jumped off the page but, thanks to the help of the Cubs defense and some unsightly BABIP, his K rate was 30.5%.

This season, Garza’s April K/9 is down almost by two, to a still great 9.62. His K rate? 28.4 % Garza has surrendered sixteen fewer hits while pitching three more innings. He’s great, really.

The hot start for Garza (with team success to match) has people around the Cubs talking about an contract extension for the 2014 free agent. While not quite Matt Cain, Garza has a fine resume and will command top dollar when he heads onto the market at age 31.

While the pendulum of fortune swung in Matt Garza’s favor in the early going, Matt Garza certainly looks the part of a number 1 starter. If the Cubs, currently at the lowest ebb of their rebuilding cycle, aren’t going to hang onto his services long-term, he certainly presents new GM Jed Hoyer with a considerable trade chip to speed up the process. The way he’s pitched since he joined the Cubs (not to mention the preceding three years with Tampa Bay) make him a match for any team in baseball.