Tipping pitches: Garza's no-hitter no excuse for lack of progress
With all due respect to Tampa Bay's
A no-hitter is a rare and spectacular feat (although not as rare in 2010 as it used to be) that takes the requisite amount talent and luck. That said, fantasy owners should realize Garza is not a fantasy ace. Useful and talented, yes. The pitcher of April 2010 (2.06 earned run average), no.
The 26-year old is hauling around a 4.46 Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) and 2.87 walks per nine innings (BB/9) rates -- both in line, or better than, his career totals. The problem for those Garza investors is that he hasn't progressed in the past three years.
Garza in 2008 -- 6.24 K/9, 2.88 BB/9, 4.48 xFIP
Garza flashed excellent strikeout ability in the minors and seemed to bring it to the big leagues with an 8.38 K/9 in 2009. But he's regressed back to the mean.
His slider and curve haven't been as effective as they were last year. His slider was 12.4 runs above average last season and is 2.4 below this year. The curve went from 5.9 above to 1.0 below.
That's led to a big increase in O-Contact% (percentage of pitches batters swing at and make contact with outside of the zone) from 60.1 to 70.5. Once that happened, Voila, the strikeouts went away.
Expect Garza to maintain his current pace in both K/9 and xFIP for the balance of 2010, making him a solid mid-rotation fantasy pitcher.
A few more notes from around baseball:
If pitchers continue their current pace and no one finishes above 10.00 in K/9, it would be the first time that's happened since 2006.
Is this an indication of some big trend? Likely not, just a slight fluctuation across the board. Expect a pitcher or three to break the double-digit mark by season's end.
Lilly has the lowest GB/FB rate in baseball at 0.58. His flyball percentage (FB%) is a career-high 51.4. He's living dangerously by putting so many balls in play in the air. A move to a team like Philadelphia would make him a very risky start at home. Combined with those batted ball figures, he doesn't have the strikeout ability he once did. His 6.55 K/9 would be a career low.
Speaking of Morrow, the Blue Jays hurler has been impressive. His 4.22 BB/9 is much lower than last year's 5.68 rate and the best of his career.
Impressively, Morrow is holding batters to a .255 Batting Average Against (BAA), while his .343 Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) is very unlucky. In fact, his BAA was .251 last season with a BABIP nearly 50 points lower at .296.
Consider Morrow if he's still available in your leagues.
Just like Morrow, this is a young guy (Scherzer just turned 26) with big-time strikeout ability. Fantasy owners should be rostering these guys universally while they are still inconsistent enough to keep the price down. If Scherzer can knock 1.00 off his BB/9, he would be absolutely deadly.
Statistics are current through July 27.