Can a red-hot Phillies Offense finally crack Matt Garza when the Brewers come to town?

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The Phillies are gearing up for a three game weekend series at home with the Brewers. If it seems like they just played Milwaukee, it’s because they have. The Brewers took last Friday and Saturday’s contests against the Phillies before the Phils were able to salvage the wrap up game on Sunday. Just a week later, the Brewers will come into Philadelphia as losers of three straight to their division rival Pittsburgh Pirates with a chance to get swept out with a lose this afternoon. The Brewers still lead the NL Central over the Cubs and Pirates, but their lead has shrunk to just 1.5 games over the Cubbies and four games over the Pirates. This is a series the Brewers will need to take at least two out of three from the Phillies in order to stay atop the NL Central.

The Phillies, on the other hand, are coming into this series with a day off today after pounding out 20 hits against the Marlins on Wednesday afternoon. After going just 1-17 over the last two weeks, Daniel Nava led the way for the Phillies with four hits. Every starter had at least one hit in the game, and all but Odubel Herrera had multiple hits. The 20 hits was an outburst that the offense desperately needed.

But what looms in the shadows waiting for his chance to get at the Phillies once again is a man who has been nothing but successful against Philadelphia teams in his career. Matt Garza is slated to pitch for the Brewers Friday night, marking the tenth time the righty will have faced the Phillies in his MLB career. Over his first nine starts against the Phillies, the 33-year-old has pitched for the Twins, Rays, Cubs, Rangers and now, the Brewers.

In his first nine starts against the Phillies, he’s compiled just a 2-2 record, meaning he’s seen five no decisions, but he’s been very strong against the club. In those nine starts, Garza has posted a 2.28 ERA against the Phillies over 59.1 innings pitched. His ERA against the Phillies is the third lowest among teams he’s faced over his career. The two teams he’s bested more frequently are the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers. That innings totals averages out to almost 6.2 innings pitched every time he’s taken the mound. Garza has also allowed just 64 baserunners over that stretch, giving him a WHIP of just slightly under 1.08, the third best of his career against any one team. The only teams he’s had a better WHIP against in his career are, again, the Padres and the Chicago Cubs.

The one thing the Phillies have done well against Garza over his nine starts against them is not strikeout. Over those 59.1 innings pitched, Phillies’ offenses have only struckout 39 times. There are 11 teams that have struckout less times than the Phillies against Garza, but only one team, the Detroit Tigers, have seen Garza nine times over his career like the Phillies have. For perspective purposes, the Tigers have struckout 37 times against Garza over 53 innings. This low strikeout total leads the Phillies to have one of the best strikeouts per nine innings pitched ratio. The Phillies strikeout against Garza just under six times per nine innings pitched. That’s good for sixth best in his career, but the two best team, the Dodgers and Rays, have only faced Garza a combined five times.

While Garza’s numbers at home and in Citizens Bank Park are fairly similar, as he allows opposing batters to hit .245 at CPB and .259 at Miller Park, one number that’s actually been better in Philadelphia in his career is his strikeout to walk rate. Over his career, that ratio is 2.42. In Miller Park, his K/BB ratio is 2.48. In Philadelphia, that ratio swells to 3.00.While Garza isn’t as much of a punch out pitcher as he used to be, (his K/9 has decreased or remained constant every year for the last seven seasons) he still knows how to work both sides of the plate and take advantage of hitters’ weaknesses.

Garza has seen a good deal of success in Citizens Bank Park against a handful of different Phillies’ lineups over his career. The Phillies will have to carry the momentum they’ve picked up over the last two games against the Marlins into this weekend series against the Brewers if they want to figure out Matt Garza.

 

Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

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