Matt Garza’s ill-fated tenure with the Milwaukee Brewers ended following the 2017 season, when his four-year contract expired and he was allowed to depart via free agency. Garza was a polarizing figure during his time with the Cream City Nine, pitching well during his first year with the team but mostly struggling through the next three seasons. His brashness, outspokenness, especially in his beliefs as a conservative Christian, and his leaving the team to be home with his wife, who was having a difficult pregnancy and was due to give birth to twins, and their four other children during the final month of 2015 after he was removed from the starting rotation also rubbed plenty of Brewer fans the wrong way.
One positive that endured throughout Garza’s duration in Milwaukee was his favorable presence in the clubhouse and rapport with his teammates. Fans didn’t see it, but by all accounts the players in the locker room viewed Garza as an important leader and veteran presence, which became especially important as the team began to rebuild and the roster was littered with young, inexperienced players still trying to figure out how things work in the big leagues. In the end, Garza’s dedication to his teammates and desire to help the club in any way that he could may have ultimately put the final nail in the coffin for his baseball career.
Adam McCalvy reported last night that Garza will undergo surgery for a torn labrum in right shoulder. According to McCalvy’s story, the injury occurred back in June when Garza collided with first baseman Jesus Aguilar during a play on the infield. Garza was placed on the disabled list with a bruised chest, but he knew at that time that there was also damage to his shoulder. Milwaukee had already been having difficulties in the starting rotation - Junior Guerra had missed most of the season at that point, Wily Peralta and Tommy Milone washed out, and Zach Davies was struggling. So with the Brewers a surprise contender in first place, Garza opted to pitch through the pain for the rest of the season and try to help his team make the postseason.
Garza performed admirably for awhile, logging a 3.68 ERA through his first 16 starts of the season, including a 3.53 mark in his first eight starts after returning from a 10-day DL stint following the collision. But pitching hurt eventually caught up with The Count, and beginning with his start on August 8th he allowed 27 earned runs over his final 26.1 innings of the season. He wound up ceding his spot in the rotation when rosters expanded and appeared in only three games during the month of September.
Garza’s injury is the same as Jimmy Nelson’s - which was repaired in September and will still cause him to miss a major portion of 2018. He won’t undergo his surgery until tomorrow, and with the rehab and recovery process he’d almost surely miss all of the upcoming season. That may effectively mean the end of his career. That puts a little more context to the 34 year old’s comments to reporters following the conclusion of the season that he was contemplating retirement after his Brewers narrowly missed the playoffs. “I have no regrets, I’ve done everything my way.”
If this is truly it for Matt Garza, it’s the end of a distinguished career in the big leagues. A first-round pick of the Twins back in 2005, Garza spent parts of 12 years from 2006-2017 pitching in the big leagues with Minnesota, Tampa Bay, the Cubs, Texas, and Milwaukee. He logged 1,710.2 innings while compiling a 4.09 ERA, a DRA- of 96, and 19.7 career WARP. He authored a no-hitter and won an ALCS MVP award with the Rays. For the Brewers he posted a 4.65 ERA across 528.1 innings in four seasons.
Say what you want about Matt Garza and his time in Milwaukee, but he basically gave up any hope of extending his career for his teammates and one more shot at the playoffs with the Brewers in 2017. That’s pretty cool. Here’s wishing him and his family the best of luck in their future endeavors.
When a guy hangs around the league for a decade or so, we usually get to see his good and bad sides. Always felt like Garza’s Bad was played up too much. Great teammate.— Matthew Trueblood (@MATrueblood) January 9, 2018
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Prospectus