The Curious Case of Matthew Garza

Okay, so no one actually calls him Matthew Garza but I thought it sounded better in the title than Matt Garza did. For the sake of continuity, I’ll call him Matthew from here on. Well, I’ve got a little fantasy advice for you and that advice is Matthew Garza. You see, Garza is having an interesting season. This won’t be anything new to those that read into advanced stats, but I know that many of my five readers don’t know the difference between BABIP and xFIP. I’m not saying that I understand these, I’m just good at pretending I do.

Matthew is interested in what I have to say.

Six starts in, Garza is 1-3 with a 3.96 ERA, 51 strikeouts, 11 walks and a 1.37 WHIP. The strikeouts look good, but nothing else stands out. What you don’t see from those numbers is that Garza is one of the best pitchers in baseball this year and his stats are about to start showing it. Thanks to the lovely nerds people over at FanGraphs, we’ve got a super cool stat called FIP, or Fielder Independent Pitching. Basically, FIP is ERA if you don’t consider how good or bad the fielders behind the pitcher are. Right now, Garza’s FIP is 1.16. That’s better than any pitcher in baseball right now. Roy Halladay is second with a FIP of 1.70. No one else comes in under 2.00.

Okay, I get it, you’re not convinced. I’m not surprised. I haven’t made a very good argument yet, so please, allow me to continue. Well, we have another useful stat. This one is called xFIP. Again, it comes from FanGraphs and is what a pitcher’s FIP is expected to be and is said to be great at predicting a pitcher’s future performance. As of today, Garza’s xFIP is 1.95. Again, this is the best in all of baseball and again, Halladay is second at 2.37.

You should be convinced by now that Garza is about to break out but I’ve got one more stat for you first. BABIP. Now, I could explain BABIP but this video is far more entertaining and does a far better job that I could:

A few pitchers, like Josh Johnson, Josh Beckett and Alexi Ogando, are sitting with sub-.200 BABIPs. These are the guys that have been very lucky. Garza is on the very opposite end. His BABIP is a ridiculous .400. His career average is .291, so we can be fairly certain that it will come down from .400. He’s either in line for a historically unlucky season, or we’re going to see just how good he really is.

What I’m trying to say is that you should buy low on Matthew Garza. He’s changed the way he pitches since moving to the National League. He’s throwing fewer fastballs, more sliders and he’s getting more groundballs. Even if his numbers don’t improve as much as I’m expecting them to, he still leads the league in strikeouts per nine innings. Pull the trigger on Garza and don’t look back.

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