After a bit of an awkward period, Matt Garza is officially a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. It was announced that Garza has signed for four years and $52M a couple days ago. The signing comes after a brief period of uncertainty about whether a deal had been completed, but in the end the two sides came to an agreement, and Garza will now be on the forefront of the Brew Crew’s rotation for the next few years. While a nice deal for both sides, fantasy owners will obviously have questions regarding the pitcher’s health. Just like I did with Masahiro Tanaka, I’m going to go through the positives and negatives of drafting Garza for your 2014 fantasy baseball team.
Matt Garza Signing - Positives
While he has had some nagging injuries these past few years, all reports say that Garza is healthy as can be. He has had ample time to recover from his shoulder injuries, and will be ready to fully participate in Spring Training, so when drafting, don’t let his injury history affect your opinion of him.
Despite the injuries, his stats are still there. His three-year average, which is a good indicator of pitcher performance, has him starting 24 games with 10 wins, a 143/45 K/BB rate, a 3.60 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. Not stellar, but productive numbers when you realize that he pitched the majority of those innings while on the bottom of one of the toughest divisions in baseball with the Cubs. While he's not on a World Series contender with Milwaukee, he is in a much better place to win.
For the first time in a while, there is not a whole lot of pressure is on Garza. That might not really be a factor in drafting him, but it could help boost his performance. Think about this: while in Chicago, he was the de facto ace behind only Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson. When he moved to Texas, he was thrown into a rotation where Yu Darvish was the lone contributor after Matt Harrison and Derek Holland were injured. Now with the Brewers, he will be sharing the workload with fellow starters Kyle Lohse and Yovani Gallardo. Any of the three can be deemed the ace of the club, and with that thought, Garza will have an easier time easing into his new role.
Matt Garza Signing - Negatives
Aside from what we already know, there is only one major negative, and that is the division in which Garza will be pitching. In an NL Central that can easily be argued as the most competitive division in baseball, Garza and the Brewers find themselves as the odd men out. Last season, the Pirates, Cardinals and Reds battled for control all season, with St. Louis winning the division and ultimately the NLCS. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati won the two wild card spots before the Bucs eliminated the Reds. What that means is that Garza will often be matched up against strong opponents in games which the Brewers will probably be losing more often than not.
Matt Garza Signing - The Verdict
Matt Garza is definitely worthy of being on your fantasy team for 2014. I see him being a top 50 SP for 2014, making him a solid #4 guy on most fantasy baseball teams. Where you draft him obviously depends on how your draft progresses, but in a standard format league, I’d say Round 9-10 is a decent target for Garza.
That’s it guys, follow me on Twitter @JustBerglund.