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Not The Weekly Mailbag: Can Deivi Garcia Keep It Going?

By Andy Singer

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Photo Courtesy of Jim McIsaac, Getty Images

Photo Courtesy of Jim McIsaac, Getty Images

So much has gone wrong for the Yankees in 2020. Given the high expectations everyone in the Yankee Universe had for the team this year, it’s not hard for me to say that this has been one of the more depressing stretches for the team in recent memory. I’ve pretty much considered any games played in 2020 a bonus given everything happening in the world today, but it would sure be nice to see the Yankees string a couple of professional caliber games together. After Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays, that is again a possibility.

The game was important for a number of reasons. For one, the Yankees actually scored more than 1 or 2 runs, something they’ve been hard-pressed to do during their 14 losses in 20 games skid. Gleyber Torres also raked, something the Yankees had yet to see in the 2020 season. Lastly, and potentially most importantly, Deivi Garcia again starred on the mound, throwing 7 efficient innings while striking out 6, walking none, and allowing just two runs on a single homer.

Garcia has been a stud in 2 of his first 3 starts, and even the dud gave the Yankees a chance to win (you know, if the Yankees pretended to have an offense). While most of us here at SSTN ranked Deivi Garcia as an inner-circle prospect, most of the staff here really didn’t think Garcia was ready to help the Yanks in 2020. Even as one of the high-guys on Garcia, I still thought he needed a little more seasoning down on the farm, though I thought he could help at some point in 2020. I have been a big believer in Garcia’s stuff, but Garcia has eclipsed even my expectations thus far in 2020. Garcia may very well be a key to salvaging the Yankee season, as he could be a steadying force in the rotation. The question remains: are his first 3 starts a mirage, or can we count on Garcia to continue his early performance?

On the plus side, Garcia has shown outstanding control, walking just 2.9% of batters faced, while throwing 68% of his pitches for strikes, stunning considering many of the questions surrounding Garcia’s ability to pitch around the strike zone at AAA. Admittedly, the public perception of Garcia’s control is slightly warped: despite running high walk rates after his promotion to AAA last season (20 BB in 40 innings), he still threw strikes on 62% of his pitches according to Baseball-Reference. One of the oft-mentioned issues with Garcia’s performance at AAA was his ability to command his fastball, and it was a point of emphasis during his time in the upper minors (for more on the differences between control and command, please see my deeper dive into the subject earlier this year). It is entirely likely that the walk rate spiked at AAA as a result of Garcia’s work, and occasional failure, to command his pitches to particular zones. In fact, Garcia had similar strike percentages to today’s 68% figure in the low minors in 2018, throwing strikes on 66% of pitches. Based on those numbers, I strongly believe that Garcia’s control has never really been an issue, and it was his command that was keeping him from the Major Leagues.

On that front, there have been some defined strides. It has been widely noted that the Yankees worked with Deivi during his time in Scranton this year on his placement on the pitching rubber, moving him from the third base side of the rubber to the first base side of the rubber. This allows Garcia to throw less across his body, which in theory should allow him to locate his pitches more effectively and consistently. To this point, that theory holds water. Check out his pitch maps from Statcast:

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Deivi Garcia Pitch Maps, Courtesy of Baseball Savant (Click to Enlarge)

Deivi Garcia Pitch Maps, Courtesy of Baseball Savant (Click to Enlarge)

Garcia has been pounding the strike zone with fastballs, working the pitch up, down, and at the edges effectively. Meanwhile, he has used his off-speed and breaking pitches consistently to the low corners of the zone, providing effective, well-located changes of pace to his fastball. I think Garcia now has enough command to make complete use of all of his pitches in all of their glory.

While we’re here, we need to talk about Garcia’s stuff. While many of us oohed and aahhed over Schmidt’s raw power this Spring, we missed why Garcia is so good: he has some of the best stuff in the Majors. Garcia’s vertical movement with his two best pitches, the fastball and the curve, are as good as any in baseball. Garcia’s fastball has 10% more ride than the average fastball in the Majors, while his curve has a whopping 17% more vertical drop than the average curve, both of which are in the top percentiles in the league. Garcia’s spin rates back up those figures, as he has elite spin rates with both his fastball and curve.

Additionally, Garcia’s pitch mix keeps hitters guessing, as he distributes his pitch speeds beautifully. According to Statcast, Garcia has an average of 17 MPH of separation between his fastball and curve, while he maintains roughly 10 MPH of separation between his fastball and his slider and change-up. All of his pitches are at least average on the 20-80 scale, and they play up when he mixes them effectively. Most importantly, he hides his pitches well, both in his delivery and in terms of his arm slots. Here is what all of his pitches look like going towards home plate:

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Deivi Garcia Release Points 9/9/20, Courtesy of Baseball Savant (Click to Enlarge)

Deivi Garcia Release Points 9/9/20, Courtesy of Baseball Savant (Click to Enlarge)

Only Garcia’s curve is thrown from a significantly different arm slot, and the pitch is so devastating that it almost doesn’t matter. Otherwise, Garcia throws his fastball, slider, and change-up from similar arm slots, making it tougher for the hitter to decipher a pattern at the plate.

The only word of caution I have is for his propensity to allow balls hit in the air, but he has allowed a significant amount of soft contact thus far, and given his stuff and ability to mix and hide pitches, I expect his soft contact rates to continue. Garcia may be prone to homers, but he should be able to limit the damage with his stuff and pitchability.

Given all of these factors, I expect Deivi Garcia to maintain his success for this season and beyond. The Yankees have found a rotation stalwart that will help steady the boat through the end of 2020.


Keep the mailbag questions coming at As we have enough questions, I’ll run them on Fridays.


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