Rating: %Thrown: Fastball 70 65 Curveball 60 10 Slider 65 15 Changeup 60 10 Control 55 Delivery 50 Composure 45Garza's fastball sits at 92-94 and runs up to 96. He sinks it low and in to right-handed batters for grounders, and locates it pretty well on the outside corner. Garza creeps his fastball further and further outside to right-handers once he gets ahead in the count. Umpires appear to be giving more of the corners this year than I remember. As long as he has his control and isn't being hit, Garza sticks to moving his fastball around and prefers to be beaten with it. Garza throws an 82-87 MPH slider, a 72-78 MPH curveball and an 82-86 MPH changeup. His slider is his main strikeout pitch of the three, and has excellent velocity and good movement. As he prefers his hard stuff, Garza mainly uses his curve as a change of pace or as a first-pitch-surprise to get ahead in the count. Garza's change doesn't have much movement, so it isn't a strikeout pitch. It's still effective when he throws it for strikes because he throws it hard enough to fool hitters into committing to a fastball. Garza's delivery reminds me of Mike Mussina's. Both drop their forearms as they rock backwards, and they stay tall and use their height as leverage in their follow-through. Traditional drop-and-drivers are closer to the ground as they finish - Tom Seaver used to scrape his right knee on the mound. Garza does have games where he labors and appears more mechanical. These outings have mostly come on the road this year, although he threw a one-hitter in Florida on June 26th and a two-hit shutout in Texas on August 15th. Garza repeats his release point well for all his pitches and doesn't tip his changeup by slowing his arm speed. He does end up in poor fielding position. Since Garza's delivery has many working parts, he needs to stay in a groove. He is vulnerable to big innings when he gets out of whack and loses his release point. He then misses his spots and is hit when he elevates his fastball over the plate. Garza is something of a gamesman. He often ruffles his glove while looking in for the sign, trying to convince the hitter he is digging for the grip of a breaking ball. He's just trying to get in the hitter's head, since more often than not a fastball is coming. Garza's competitive streak boils over now and then. He was removed after four innings of his June 8 start in Arlington for arguing with his catcher Dioner Navarro. It appears Garza has a habit of shaking off signs, and Navarro challenged him on the mound after Garza gave up a home run. After the inning, Garza was clearly the aggressor as he went into the dugout and ended up tussling with Navarro in the tunnel. My main concern with Garza is his makeup. He has the repertoire of a #2 starter and can be an ace if he stays healthy. His delivery is complex but he repeats it well when he's locked in. The Rays are obviously a solid organization. Yet every pitcher gets humbled at some point, and only rare ones like Curt Schilling can pitch through these times with the same headstrong attitude they have when they were winning. The Rays' coaching staff won't mind Garza acting like Schilling as long as he's winning, but if he struggles, we'll see if he can show more maturity. Radar Love - Heat in the last week: 96-98: Matt Lindstrom against the Mets on August 30.
Article first appeared 9/3/08