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Meet The New Guy: Justin Garza

Another reliever to throw against the wall.

Who is he and where did he come from?

He’s Justin Garza, and the Red Sox just claimed him off waivers after he was released by the Los Angeles Angels, who had claimed him off waivers from the Cleveland Guardians but never placed him on their 26-man roster.

Is he any good?

You know the drill with relievers picked up off waivers by now. None of them are all that good per se, or else they wouldn't be on waivers in the first place. But most of them have something about them that gives you hope that they could at least be effective with a tweak or two. With Brennan Bernardino, the Sox figured they found a guy who could keep the ball on the ground and translate AAA success to the big leagues. So far, that appears to be the case, as Bernardino has been pretty damn good in a few limited appearances so far, while yielding a minuscule 9.1% fly ball rate.

With Garza, it isn’t quite as clear what the Sox see in him yet. He’s primarily a sinker-cutter pitcher, though he mixes in a slider against righties and a changeup against lefties. His velocity is about league average, with his sinker sitting around 95 MPH. He’s only been okay at the AAA level, with a career ERA of 3.67 in 73.2 innings down there. And despite the sinker-heavy arsenal, he’s not really a groundball pitcher.

He did have a big strike out year in 2021 for the Guardians AAA team, averaging over 12 strikeouts-per-nine in 14 games, a rate that would’ve placed him in the top 20 among MLB relievers that year. But, unsurprisingly, he wasn’t able keep that going at the big league level. His strikeout rate dropped to just 9.1 during his only stint in the Majors in 2021, and only barely climbed back up to 10.5 as he spent the entire season back in AAA last year.

Is he he related to Matt Garza, the old Tampa Bay Rays pitcher?

As far as we can tell, no. Garza is the 186th most popular surname in America; it’s not like they’re all cousins or something.

Isn’t it crazy how much Matt Garza looks like the Count from Sesame Street? We don’t talk about that enough.

We don’t! I know there were some jokes about it on Twitter through the years, but come on, this MFer really looks like a Muppet! We should all discuss this at least once a week.

Show me a cool highlight.

He once struck out the side in a Major League game! You can’t do that!

What’s his role on the 2023 Red Sox?

Unless the Sox have spotted something in his profile that’s remained hidden from just about everyone else, it looks like he’s nothing more than right-handed relief depth. Expect to see him in Boston only when injuries necessitate, and only as a low-leverage reliever.

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