COMMENTARY | So it all comes down to this: The Atlanta Braves are facing elimination from the MLB playoffs after getting beat 13-6 in Game 3 to go down 2-1 in their best-of-five NLDS series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and it is now win or go home.
The Dodgers will try to hammer the door shut with Ricky Nolasco going to the bump to make his first career postseason appearance. Nolasco was 1-0 against the Braves this season, giving up two runs in seven innings and striking out seven.
Not to be outdone, the Braves will counter with … Freddy Garcia?
That's right, the fate of the Braves' 2013 season rests in the 37-year-old hands of a veteran righty the Braves picked up for cash considerations from the Baltimore Orioles in August, and whom they subsequently sent to the minors until the September call-ups.
Now that we are over the initial head-shaking bemoaning of our current situation, let's see if there is any way to think positively about Garcia being Atlanta's last bullet in the chamber.
Solid regular season
Though it was basically the equivalent of mop-up duty in September, once the Braves had decided to take their foot off the gas and just coast to the playoffs, Garcia did pitch pretty well over the final month of the season.
His 5.77 ERA with the Orioles made Baltimore all too willing to trade him for a suitcase full of cash, but, in Atlanta, Garcia was able to at least dip a toe in the fountain of youth. Whether or not the Gwinnett janitorial staff might find the sucked out souls of young prospects in the bottom of Garcia's old locker, the righty was able to record a 1.65 ERA in his three starts after being called up to Atlanta.
The one positive about pitching someone who has been playing professional baseball since before Jason Heyward stopped wetting the bed is that he will not be shaken by the big stage.
In Game 3, it was easy to see that the 22-year-old Julio Teheran may not have been so prepared for the bright lights of October. Despite arguably being the Braves' most reliable pitcher in the regular season, Teheran only lasted 2 2/3 innings and gave up six earned runs in his first postseason start.
In Garcia's beard-graying 15 years of MLB service, he recorded a postseason record of 6-3 with a 3.28 ERA in 10 career starts. In 2005, he was a perfect 3-0 for the Chicago White Sox on their way to a World Series crown.
His last taste of the postseason was in 2011 with the New York Yankees. Garcia made one start and took the loss after giving up three runs in 5 1/3 innings of work. If I told you right now Garcia would give the Braves six innings and give up only three runs in Game 4, I think most fans would probably feel great about that outing.
Career against Dodgers hitters
Garcia does not have the most up-to-date resume against the current group of Dodgers. He did allow a .133 average to their hitters in 2001 -- including making Gary Sheffield go 0-for-3 -- but those stats may not exactly mean much 12 years later.
The only current L.A. hitter Garcia has faced is Adrian Gonzalez. In 2012, Gonzalez went 2-for-4 with a double, one RBI and a run scored.
Silver lining: Garcia will have the element of surprise.
Anthony Schreiber is a freelance sportswriter who has been following the Atlanta Braves for over 20 years. He has penned articles for a variety of online publications and magazines.
- Sports & Recreation
- Atlanta Braves
- Freddy Garcia
- Los Angeles Dodgers