The signs entering this season seemed to point to Matt Garza’s major-league career winding down.
The former Fresno State star is coming off back-to-back brutal seasons.
Garza, 33, even began 2017 on the disabled list, another indicator that his best days as a pitcher might have passed.
But with the regular season down to its final two months, there’s Garza proving he’s got plenty of good pitching still in him.
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And he’s helped a young Milwaukee Brewers team remain in the playoff hunt as one of the National League’s surprise teams.
Garza scattered four hits and two walks while allowing one run in 5 2/3 innings to get the win Thursday as the Brewers topped the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1.
Coming off the disabled list for the fourth time this season, Garza evened his record at 5-5 and lowered his ERA to 3.68. He has 60 strikeouts and has walked 28 in 88 innings.
“We’re in a bit of an offensive rut right now, but that’s OK. Our starters have been doing our job and our bullpen is shortening things up,” Garza said. “As soon as our offense starts clicking, we’ll be all right.”
Granted, Garza hasn’t thrown nearly as many innings as he has in past seasons. But if the season ended today, his ERA would be the second-lowest in his 12-year career.
3.68Season ERA for Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Matt Garza after a combined 5.18 during the previous two seasons.
The Brewers (57-53), meanwhile, were 1.5 games back of the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs (57-50) in the NL Central.
Garza arguably is the most accomplished current major leaguer among those who went to Fresno State. For his career, Garza is 92-102 with a 4.01 ERA and 1,361 strikeouts. He also threw the Tampa Bay Rays’ only no-hitter in 2010.
New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge is the American League home run leader but is just a rookie. Other Bulldogs alums include Chicago Cubs reliever Justin Wilson and veteran Doug Fister, who’s pitching for the Boston Red Sox.
It’s possible all four of those former Bulldogs could be in the playoffs come October.
Fister’s Red Sox lead the AL East, though just ahead of Judge’s Yankees who are the top AL wild-card team.
Wilson’s Cubs are in a tight race with Garza’s Brewers in the Central, and one of those teams also could sneak into the second NL wild-card spot.
For his career, Garza is 92-102 with a 4.01 ERA and 1,361 strikeouts.
Another ex-Bulldog, outfielder Jordan Luplow, joined the Pittsburgh Pirates last week but was sent back to Triple-A Thursday when Gregory Polanco came off the disabled list. Luplow was 0 for 9 with a walk and three strikeouts in his big-league debut.