Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 11/17/14
Matt Garza was oh-so-good in 2011. It wasn’t the first time he’d had a strikeout rate over 8.00 K/9 or a walk rate under 3.00 K/9, but it was the first time he’d done them both in the same season. Toss in a career-best 46.3 GB% and you have the recipe for a banner season, and that’s exactly what we saw with Garza and his 3.32 ERA. Last year he kept the strikeouts and ground balls up and the walks down, but he couldn’t keep the ball in the park; his 16.7% HR/FB ratio was worse than the 11.3% league average and far worse than his 7.7% mark in 2011. Wrigley Field is about league average in terms of homers, so a little change in luck will probably result in a HR/FB correction for Garza that should help him, but his ERA has comfortably sat in the 3.90s in three of the last four years. At a Glance Strengths: K, K/9, BB Neutral: W, IP, QS, ERA, WHIP Weaknesses: L Player Comparisons Best-case scenario: James Shields (KC) Likely scenario: Ryan Dempster (BOS), Tommy Hanson (OAK), A.J. Burnett (PIT) Worst-case scenario: Homer Bailey (CIN) Matt Garza 2013 Fantasy Projection The Cubs could — yes, I said “could” — have a good lineup. Either way, Garza throws around 200 innings so he’s going to have a lot of decisions in games. That could mean his record ends up at 14-10, 10-14, or anything in between. It appears the improved strikeout and walk rates are the new norms after two years (though one was a half-season), so I feel comfortable projecting repeats in those categories. Like with Derek Holland, for Garza it all comes down to the homers. If he can get those under control, Garza has an outside chance at a repeat of 2011. I’ll admit this projection is conservative because the numbers say that Garza should have an ERA in the 3.60-3.70 range, but I’ve always had a somewhat disappointing view of him. That’s influencing our projection a bit. If you feel comfortable with Garza, then go ahead and draft him accordingly. You could talk me into him being a top-150 player and turning ERA and WHIP into “strengths,” and that means he has more upside than your typical seven-year veteran.
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