The Matt Garza Factor

Putting aside anything Dave Dombrowski has said regarding the Tigers plans this off-season, I wanted to take a look at what Matt Garza could make Detroit’s starting 5 look like in 2012. In this post I will ignore who the club would give up for him, as that would focus on the future.

Jim Leyland can’t survive much longer now that his cigarette supply has been limited during the season and he’s resorted to chain smoking and binge drinking to make up for lost time…sounds like a lot of Tigers fans and bloggers if you ask me. That was, of course, a roundabout and snarky way of saying the Tigers are in “win now” mode. If they fielded the team as is, baring major injury, they would most likely win the division. Simply put, the Indians and Royals are unknown factors, though the Royals will be better than most realize, Chicago is in full identity crisis mode, and Minnesota has 5 fifth pitchers. Therefore, the Tigers focus should be on how to make win during the playoffs.

Pitching is the key, as offense in the playoffs is generally consistent enough no matter what team you are. In 2011, the Tigers starting pitching posted these averages in the 6 ALCS games:

IP/AVG

ERA

WHIP

H/9

BB/9

SO/9

6.0

5.50

1.45

10.25

2.75

7.5

The only statistics worth anything were the walk and strikeout rates. While they averaged 6 innings per start, the main reason was because the bullpen started falling apart. These are the collected bullpen averages from 17 separate appearances in the 6 ALCS games:

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

BB/9

SO/9

22.0

6.14

1.41

9.00

3.68

4.91

Here, there aren’t any stats worth remembering. The pen was overused in the ALDS and fell apart in the Texas series. The Tigers signed Octavio Dotel to help alleviate the issue, but another starting pitcher could help by becoming another arm in the bullpen when needed and Garza’s presence could push either Porcello or Scherzer into that very important role in 2012.

But during the regular season, the Matt Garza factor would add to a pretty impressive starting rotation. Garza (28) could join Verlander (29), Scherzer (27), Fister (28), and Porcello (23) as one of the youngest established rotations in both leagues. Their combined WAR last year was 20.6, Porcello threw the fewest innings (182), Scherzer threw (195), Garza (198), Fister (216.1), and Verlander topped everyone in baseball with 251.

Does Garza fix last year’s postseason pitching woes? Not directly. He would certainly make the rotation among the best in baseball and would make it a fun club to watch day in and day out, but if the Tigers want to fix the bullpen issue they are going to need to grab a few more established arms, sans what the Texas Rangers are doing.

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