With Matt Garza’s arbitration hearing scheduled for tomorrow (and Bruce Levine hinting it will go forward), it’s interesting to look back at Garza’s 2011 season, start-by-start, to remember how effective he was, despite his 10-10 win-loss record. In doing so, it’s easy to see how good Garza was in 2011 with the Cubs, and how totally and completely worthless the win-loss stat is.

Yes, I recently argued (persuasively, in my opinion) that Garza’s $12.5 million arbitration request is far, far too high (the Cubs offered $7.95 million). I still believe that. But I’ve always had the “feeling” that Garza was all kinds of awesome last year, perhaps even better than the numbers reflect. And, man, looking back at his starts last year, Garza was so very good for the Cubs, and was so regularly screwed by his teammates.

Generally speaking, we already know this to be true from looking at the aggregated and advanced stats. But time and distance have a way of obscuring the long, grinding nature of a baseball season. We can look back at the stats, but usually, by the next season, we’re left with little more than a “feeling” about how a player performed in a given year.

So BN’er Cliffy and I went through each of Garza’s 31 starts last year, to take a look at the outcome for Garza, and how factors outside his control led to that outcome. In doing so, you get a clear picture of a pitcher who, on a start-by-start basis, regularly gave his team a great chance to win. And the team regularly blew it, especially as the season went on.

Matt Garza’s 2011 starts, with a relevant note or two for each:

Game #1: Cubs lose, Garza gets no decision despite going 7 innings, and allowing 3 earned runs (that was the crazy Pirates game where Garza struck out 12, but also allowed 12 hits (all singles)) – Marmol blown save, allowing 2 runs in 9th

Game #2: Cubs lose, Garza with the deserved loss (not all the starts were great, obviously)

Game #3: Cubs lose, Garza with the deserved loss

Game #4: Cubs win, Garza with the win

Game #5: Cubs lose, Garza allows just one earned run – Castro has 3 errors

Game #6: Cubs win, Garza with the win

Game #7: Cubs lose, Garza with the deserved loss

Game #8: Cubs win,  Garza with the win

Game #9: Cubs lose, Garza goes 6 innings giving up 0 earned runs – Wood gives up 4 runs in relief

Game #10: Cubs lose, Garza with the deserved loss

Game #11: Cubs lose, Garza with the loss despite giving up just 1 earned run in 6 innings – bullpen gives up 5 runs

Game #12: Cubs win, Garza with the win

Game #13: Cubs lose, Garza goes 5 innings giving up 2 earned runs – bullpen gives it up

Game #14: Cubs win, Garza with the win

Game #15: Cubs lose, Garza with the loss despite going 9 innings and giving up just 1 earned run – offense scored 0

Game #16: Cubs win, but Garza only goes 2 innings

Game #17: Cubs lose, Garza goes 7 innings and allows no earned runs – Marmol absolutely implodes, giving up 5 runs

Game #18: Cubs lose, Garza goes 7 innings and allows just 1 earned run – Marshall blows save, giving up 3 runs in final 2 innings

Game #19: Cubs win, Garza goes 7 innings and allows just 2 earned runs – Garza gets no decision because Samardzija gives up 2 runs late

Game #20: Cubs lose, Garza with the deserved loss

Game #21: Cubs win, Garza with the win

Game #22: Cubs lose, Garza goes 6 innings and gives up just 3 earned runs – offense doesn’t show up

Game #23: Cubs win, Garza goes 5 innings and gives up 2 earned runs but gets no decision – offense shows up, but late

Game #24: Cubs win, Garza with the win

Game #25: Cubs lose, Garza goes 5 innings, giving up 3 earned runs – defense makes 3 errors behind Garza (who made one, himself)

Game #26: Cubs win, Garza with the win

Game #27: Cubs win, Garza with the win

Game #28: Cubs win, Garza goes 7 innings and allows 3 earned runs but gets no decision – Samardzija blows it, Cubs win in extras

Game #29: Cubs win, Garza goes 9 innings allowing just 3 earned runs but gets no decision – Cubs win in extras

Game #30: Cubs win, Garza with the win

Game #31: Cubs win, Garza with the win

What stands out to me is, despite that vague “feeling” that Garza was brilliant last year, “Cubs win, Garza with the win” shows up just 10 times out of 31. When you see them all laid out like that, it’s stark. And, after his 10th start, Garza got a deserved loss just once. (It’s also interesting to see that Garza wasn’t quite getting screwed *every* time he pitched – it just seemed like it at the time.)

I’m not changing my tune on Garza’s arbitration case, but it worth being reminded just how good – and how unlucky – Matt Garza was almost every time out for the Cubs last year.



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