Deivi Garcia's meteoric rise to the bigs has been nothing short of exceptional.
At 20 years old last season, Garcia went from High-A ball to Double-A after just four starts. Then, after 11 games with the Trenton Thunder, the Yankees moved him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after dominating the prior level. He finally slowed down in Triple-A, but Garcia fought through the adversity and was seriously considered for the 26-man roster while Spring Training was happening.
Now 21, Garcia made his Yankees debut on Aug. 30 against the Mets at Citi Field. That's four levels of baseball in just two seasons.
Would it be crazy to say he should be starting in a postseason game come October?
Manager Aaron Boone has some tough decisions to make regarding his starting rotation if/when the Yankees reach the postseason. Gerrit Cole is your obvious No. 1 and Masahiro Tanaka should be right behind him. James Paxton would’ve been the third in an ideal world, but Boone called it “challenging” for him to return this season as he’s dealing with an injury.
That leaves J.A. Happ, Jordan Montgomery and Garcia to work with. Happ has been pitching well of late, but it has been obvious the Yankees are controlling how many times he starts so that his vesting option for 2021 worth $17 million doesn’t kick in. He needs 10 starts for it to go through and he’s already at seven. Montgomery would be good to get a lefty in that rotation, but with an ERA at 4.76 because of a couple dud outings, do the Yankees want to test that in the postseason?
The same could be said for Garcia because it would also be a crapshoot to throw a young pitcher out there on the mound to start in his first postseason. But the demeanor of Garcia is what has impressed the Yankees' coaches and players, something that should be able to translate to a high-pressure start in October.
Gary Sanchez called Garcia “fearless” following his latest start against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night, and after catching him for his last two outings, he loves that he can spot any pitch he throws.
“Deivi can execute any pitch and he has four pitches,” Sanchez said via Zoom through a team translator. “I only caught him a couple times in spring training and it’s a big difference. He’s out there with a lot of confidence.”
The stats also speak for themselves when you break down the few starts Garcia has had. The regular ones like ERA (3.28) and WHIP (0.97) are great, but checking out advanced stats, you’d see that Garcia has a low hard-hit rate at 35.7 percent and has an average exit velocity on hits at 88.4 – both very respectable numbers that show hitters haven't been squaring it up much against him.
Garcia is also getting a lot of hitters to pop up, with a 14.3 pop-up percentage compared to the MLB average 7.1. That is probably due to his nasty curveball that has 12-to-6 drop as well as his changeup, which is his second favorite pitch to use. Worth noting: Garcia’s spin rate of 2,739 on his curveball is well above-average, and that explains why it has such a tight break.
What Garcia does so well, though, is locating his fastball -- a pitch he uses 60 percent of the time. It’s a four-seamer, so there isn’t much movement at all. And it isn’t too overpowering, averaging 92.3 mph. But it’s a deceptive fastball, mainly due to his delivery that features his body turning away from the hitter before pushing off toward the plate. He hides the ball as long as he can before firing home, and that fastball has the ability to ramp up to 94 mph.
By going at hitters early and spotting his fastball to get strike one, Garcia can then mix up his pitches that has been keeping most hitters off balance.
The eye test and advanced stats show that Garcia has the stuff to compete in MLB, and he’s been doing so with success early on. His aggressive style of going at hitters with the fastball, mixing up his locations as well as his pitches when he’s ahead, and going deep into games to give the bullpen a break is just what you need in postseason baseball.
If Garcia finishes this season strong – and the Yankees clinch a postseason berth – Boone should definitely be considering the youngster for a rotation spot. It will be his toughest challenge to date, but from the looks of things, Garcia’s confidence would bode well when the pressure is on.