The Brewers started a critical series against the Cardinals this past Tuesday with Garza starting that game. Garza pitched his usual bad start giving up 3 earned runs in only 3.1 IP. Garza has been terrible this season being in the bottom thirty in both ERA (4.77) and FIP (4.99) minimum 100 IP. Garza, who for the past 3 seasons has been struggling, has only gotten worse as the season progresses. Here is his 15 game rolling average via Fangraphs of Garza for ERA and whiff percentage:
Garza’s ERA has been rising throughout the season and hitters are whiffing less often. Garza has not had an ERA sub 4.00 since 2014. This season, if his 4.77 ERA isn’t bad enough, his 4.99 FIP indicates that hes actually lucky to have an ERA this “low”. Of the 13 pitchers who have ERAs higher than 4.77, only 4 of them have FIPs that are higher than their ERA.
So if the Brewers decide to bump Garza out of the rotation, who are the alternative options? The most notable option would be top prospect Josh Hader. Hader has been in the bullpen for the Brewers pitching a total of 31 innings with a stellar 1.44 ERA and 11.78 K/9. Hader has a great four seam fastball that is bordering on the elite. Hader has the 3rd highest whiff rate on four seam fastballs trailing only Sean Doolittle and Craig Kimbrel. Hader will most likely join the starting rotation next season, but he would be a boost to the rotation this year.
The other option would be Brandon Woodruff. He has started 3 games this year totaling 16.2 innings accumulating a 1.62 ERA and 4.09 FIP. Woodruff has been very fortunate in getting himself out of jams as his 93% LOB% would indicate. Woodruff is a ground ball pitcher who has never thrived on the strikeout over the course of his minor league career. If he can cut down on giving up walks in the big leagues while continuing to induce ground balls, he could help the Brewers immensely.
Garza has been bad. He has been for the past 3 seasons and he continues to be this year. If the Brewers want to better their odds of a playoff spot, it would be wise to put other pitchers in the rotation. Woodruff will make another start on Saturday against the Nationals while Hader will continue to work out of the bullpen. Suter will most likely slot in to make more starts as well once he comes off the DL. The Brewers have plenty of starting pitching options. Garza is no longer needed with younger pitchers on the rise.