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A Closer Look at Matt Garza, Leading the Majors in Deceptive Awesomeness.

One of the more interesting players to start the season has been Matt Garza. I've never been a huge Garza fan and I thought the Cubs grossly overpaid. The players they gave up look especially better now than they did at the time of the deal and include:

Sam Fuld (Y'already know)

Hak-Ju Lee (BA's #92 prospect. Hitting .452 in his first 10 games in High-A)

Chris Archer (BA's #27 prospec)

Brandon Guyer and Robinson Chirinos... but mostly those other 2 guys with big payoffs from Sam Fuld thus far.

I didn't like it then, and I'm still not sure I like it despite the fact that Garza is racking up an obscene amount of strikeouts.

Garza had a very interesting first start of the season. Against the Pirates he went 7 innings, struck out 12, and walked none. By almost any means, a fantastic start. The only problem was he also allowed 12 hits which lead to 3 runs. (Because, Pirates)

That trend continued in his next start, against Milwuakee. 5.2 innings, 8 strikeouts, 3 walks, and 8 hits allowed which lead to 5 runs. (Because, Milwuakee!)

However, Garza has been improving as the season goes along. (Improving on a 12 K, 0 BB performance) by allowing fewer hits in each of his starts. In his last start against Colorado he went 6 innings, allowed 3 hits, struck out 7 and walked 1.

What can fantasy owners expect going forward?

The difficult part about projecting Garza, is that so far he is a different pitcher than he was in Minnesota and Tampa Bay. Garza was throwing his fastball more than 70% of the time in Tampa and now he's only throwing it 54% of the time. He's using his slider, curve, and change-up much more, mixing his pitches in a way he never had before.

Garza has never been under 4.00 FIP or 4.00 xFIP in his career, but is currently sitting on a major-league leading 1.24 FIP and a major-league leading 1.93 xFIP. Many of the numbers that matter in fantasy however, have been left unaffected, or worse. His 4.11 ERA. His 1.47 WHIP.

However, in leagues that count K/9, BB/9, or K/BB, Garza has been a beast. Currently at 12.03, 2.64, and 4.56, respectively. (And respectfully)

The BABIP against Garza is a major league worst .414. That should be expected to drop ~100 points and the WHIP and hits allowed will go down. He's also inducing a career high 50% grounders and a career low 21% fly balls, none of which have left the park.

Going into the season, I would have had Garza ranked something along the lines of "Must be owned, nothing special" category. (60-70th best fantasy SP?) ERA didn't kill you, had a past of higher strikeouts than the 6.60 he put up in 2010, moving into the NL.

If I updated that thought now, I'd have to move him at least into the 20's with the idea that Garza could be the breakout pitcher of 2011.

I wouldn't "sell high" on Garza right now. I'd hang on and wait for the ERA and WHIP to improve, which they will as long as he sticks to this current gameplan.