"I want to go to the postseason, and I don't want to be the reason that we're not. So I understand it, and my job is to turn it around and contribute when I can and be ready when they call me."
Garza, in the final guaranteed season of a $50 million contract, posted a 7.67 ERA in six August starts, including a 9.28 ERA and a .337 opponents' average in his five most recent outings. In those games, he surrendered 22 earned runs in 21 1/3 innings while putting 52 men on base -- 31 hits, 16 walks and a hit batsman.
Brent Suter will start in Garza's place Sunday in what amounts to a bullpen day. Suter threw 34 pitches on Wednesday in a rehab start for Class A Wisconsin to complete his comeback from a left rotator cuff strain. He will be on a limited pitch count against the Nationals.
The Brewers still plan to use Garza down the stretch, perhaps as soon as Wednesday in Cincinnati, where he has a 3.83 ERA in eight career starts. That rotation spot is currently open because the Brewers are considering bumping top starter Jimmy Nelson back a day to pitch Friday at Wrigley Field against the first-place Cubs.
"I'm not discouraged by any means," Garza said. "I just had a bad month at the wrong time, and you want your best guys going right now in September."
Eye toward October
Manager Craig Counsell said no firm decision had been made on that Wednesday game against the Reds. Keeping Nelson on his regular schedule would leave him aligned for one extra regular-season start in the Brewers' Oct. 1 finale in St. Louis. But bumping him back a day would not only allow the Brewers to pitch their best starter against the team they are chasing in the National League Central, the Cubs, it would line up Nelson to start a potential NL Wild Card Game.
"There's a couple different ways we could go with it," Counsell said. "I'm glad we're having to [debate] that, and having to maximize guys like Jimmy and Chase [Anderson] and Zach [Davies], who are pitching so well."
Brimming with backstops
The Brewers activated catcher Jett Bandy from the 10-day DL Saturday following an absence with a cracked left rib, just as Manny Pina was testing his right hip injury in a successful battery of catching drills at Miller Park. With Andrew Susac's return from the DL a day earlier, the Brewers suddenly have four active catchers.
Pina said he hopes to return to the starting lineup as early as Sunday.
"We basically kept Manny out of anything that would aggravate the hip for the last three days. Today, he went through a series of drills, and it was a real positive result," Counsell said. "More times helps him, certainly, but we're headed in the right direction."