When the Milwaukee Brewers handed the ball to starter Matt Garza in the final game of a three-game set, they had a chance to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals for the first time since June 2011. Instead of what would have been the perfect way to end a dominant April, the Brewers emerged from the game with an injured starter and a further-depleted bullpen heading into the second half of a 13-game stretch without an off day.
Garza left the game in the bottom of the fourth inning after suffering a right thumb contusion in the top of the frame. The Brewers needed him to work deep into the ballgame, and the loss came doubly bad for the team’s bullpen, especially since both previous games in this series went into extra innings. Though dominant so far this season and ranked third in baseball in ERA and second in WHIP, the Brewers’ bullpen badly needed some rest because of the almost 200 pitches it threw before the start of Wednesday’s game.
For Garza, the thumb contusion is the tip of the iceberg for his struggles to get going this season. So far in 2014 Garza hasn’t been the dominant starter the Brewers hoped they were getting when they signed him to a four-year, $50 million contract in the offseason. He’s 1-3 in six starts with a 5.00 ERA, and his lone win came in his last start against the Chicago Cubs, his former team and a team that’s won eight total games this season.
Known for being outspoken, Garza raised more than a few eyebrows during the series against the Cubs when he said he lost the chance for 30 wins while playing for the Cubs and advised former teammate and current Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija that Samardzija needs to pitch his way out of Chicago to keep his career alive. Garza may have pitched his way out of Chicago. However, he needs to start pitching better to stay in Milwaukee. And that’s really difficult to do with a thumb injury.