Even though the #1 rule of Spring Training stats is to take them with a grain of salt - I can't help but get a little caught up in what we're seeing this spring from Matt Garza. In 5 outings (13 2/3 innings pitched), Garza has allowed 26 baserunners and 15 runs to score. Saturday he got knocked around a bit by the Padres, which was his first time out after his only decent spring outing last Monday when he went 4 innings against the Mariners.
Garza has said that he's battled a strained hamstring, an uneven pitching mound, and has had an outing where he didn't use all his pitches. Perhaps that's the reason for his struggles this spring. He's likely got 2 more starts - starts where I'd love to see him go 5 and then 6 innings to make sure he's properly stretched out for opening day. And I'd love to see him experience a little more success out there. Assuming that kind of success, what are the Cubs in for in 2011?
Garza is a fly-ball pitcher. He has become more and more of a fly-ball pitcher the past couple seasons. He's now moving from a home park (The Trop) that helped mask some of that to a home park that absolutely will not in the summer. He's also moving from a very good defensive outfield behind him to a very average at best defensive outfield behind him. These are 2 very important factors to consider when trying to figure out what to expect from Matt this year. For more on these park factors, take a look at this link: Fangraphs' Take on Matt Garza. It explains the whole situation in a lot more detail than I just did.
The move to the NL Central should help Garza be a bit more successful as, lets face it, the quality of competition day in and day out isn't as stiff. I'm counting on him for 200 innings in the middle of the Cubs rotation, an ERA around 3.75 - 4.00, and for a lot of HR allowed. This should equate to a pretty decent #3 starter, which is what a lot of fans envisioned when the trade was made official a couple months ago.
What do you guys think?