Matt Garza May Not Provide As Much Value Down Stretch As Texas Rangers Envisioned

By Thom Tsang
Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Shouldn’t Matt Garza be used to pitching in the AL?

That was the prevailing thought about the impact that he’d bring to the Texas Rangers when they traded for him prior to the trade deadline; but as they’re finding out, even years of experience pitching in the toughest division in baseball (that’s the AL East — sorry, NL Central) aren’t enough to hold off the AL hitters from adjusting quickly.

Or maybe, it’s the Rangers’ prized righty that needs to adjust, as he’s finding out very quickly after a pair of promising quality starts with his new team.

Either way, I suppose the short of it is that the pitcher on the mound lately isn’t exactly what the Rangers bargained for … that is, unless they bargained for a pitcher who hasn’t allowed fewer than four runs in each of his four starts in August, and who leads the team’s starters with a 5.60 ERA and .282 BAA in that span.

Those kinds of numbers get masked in situations like his latest outing, in which he labored through 112 pitches against the divisional rivals Houston Astros prior to getting chased by a Brett Wallace double with two outs in the seventh inning to cap a five-run outing.

That didn’t matter, of course; not when he’d be spotted a 16-1 head at that point thanks to an incredible 11-run third inning back in the third.

So he remains 3-1 through six starts, and even if his 4.32 ERA is a little higher than the team would like, he’s giving the team a chance to win, right? Sure, that might be the case now, but as for his ability to continue doing it down the stretch … that’s a little more questionable.

As expected, there’s little doubt that the move back to the AL West and pitching in Arlington has affected Garza’s numbers than when he was in the NL — he’s giving up more line drives (22.3 percent to 21.4 with the Chicago Cubs this season), more home runs (five over 27.1 IP in August, a 1.30 HR/9 rate vs 1.01), and is just getting hit harder than general.

Yet, the thing that should cause the Rangers the most concern? Garza is having a difficult time generating ground balls. His 0.88 GB/FB rate with the team thus far is a far cry from what he managed with the Cubs, and harkens back to his final year with the Tampa Bay Rays when he was a 1.6 fWAR pitcher — his worst in three years with the team.

And considering that he gave up fewer line drives and home runs then … you know, maybe the Rangers were just using a bit of foresight when they allegedly made him available at the trade deadline.

Thom is an MLB writer for Follow him on Twitter @BlueJaysRant, or add him to your network on Google

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