At one point in the 2014 MLB season, the Milwaukee Brewers were the best team in baseball. The Brew Crew are still winning their fair share of games into July this year, and Matt Garza‘s role as the All-Star break approaches is vital to his team’s NL Central title hopes in the second half.
Garza’s ERA reached a high point this season on April 30 when he was lit up over three innings by the St. Louis Cardinals. After he exited that game, his ERA had swelled to 5.00. Once May rolled around, his ERA began a somewhat gradual decline, as he started June with it sitting at 4.42.
The Brewers signed Garza in the 2013 off-season to a four year contract worth $52 million and a vesting option for a fifth year in the 2018 season. The contract made Garza the most expensive free agent the Brewers had ever signed. Though Yovani Gallardo was the Brewers’ Opening Day starter and ace on paper, Garza’s contract and potential incentives will pay him ace-like salaries.
In his career, Garza has a 3.87 first half ERA and a second half ERA of 3.78. Marginally better in the home stretch months of the season, Garza beginning to find his groove right now bodes well for the Brewers’ second half push and a their second NL Central title in the last five years. Garza has dropped his ERA from 4.42 at the beginning of June to 3.69 after his most recent start against the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday afternoon. Thursday’s game marked the first time in July Garza had allowed an earned run in the month, as he previously threw a 111 pitch shutout against the Cincinnati Reds on July 5.
On Thursday against the Phillies, Garza stayed hot, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Philadelphia. He exited allowing two earned runs over 7.2 innings, but was saddled with the loss because the Brewers’ lineup could muster only a single run on the day.
Even still, things appear to be trending upward for the 30-year-old right hander. Considering he and Gallardo did not have the most impressive opening halves to the 2014 season, there is strong reason for optimism in the second half with the Brewers’ two highest paid starters now starting to fire on all cylinders. With the mid-season break coming after this weekend, Garza can take some real positives away from his last two starts, regroup mentally and physically, and open the second half of his season on a tear for the Brewers.