St. Louis Cardinals SP Jaime Garcia shut down the Milwaukee Brewers Sunday, pitching eight innings and allowing just one run. Garcia’s season ERA improved to 2.25, a surely unsustainable mark for a pitcher of his style and caliber.
As Garcia averages just 7 K/9 and enjoys a reputation as a pitch-to-contact pitcher, his success will run directly in correlation with his success on balls in play. So far this season, Garcia has a very low home run rate, a stat which stabilizes near the mean and should actually increase into the humidity of the summer. xFIP is a version of fielding independent pitching that normalizes home run rates, so we can evaluate the expected success of a pitcher like Garcia. Garcia’s xFIP is currently over 3.3, indicating that some staunch regression is in his future. While Garcia has enjoyed some consistent success in his career, it is more likely that his rest-of-season ERA will be closer to a point higher than its current mark.
Garcia is one of three Cardinals starters that is currently enjoying very substantial luck. Jake Westbrook, who I wrote about recently, and Shelby Miller are both overachieving substantially in the early season. While these three starters are sure to regress, the Cardinals have areas that will naturally improve as well. 1B Allen Craig just recently hit his first home run and has endured poor luck (3.6 HR/FB rate). Additionally, the Cardinals’ bullpen has been extremely erratic, and bullpen arms–possibly more than any other area–settle in towards career norms throughout a season. The Cardinals have enjoyed early season success, but it will be interesting to see how they will do once the early season variance settles towards expected norms.
Gabe Isaacson is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @gabeisaacson.