Untested coming into 2021, Luis Garcia provided the Houston Astros incredible value at minimum cost.
A little more than two-years-ago, Houston Astros‘ Luis Garcia was a Fayetteville Woodpecker. Today, he’s an American League Rookie of the Year candidate. I chronicled the soon to be twenty-five year old’s meteoric rise earlier this year, but suffice it to say Garcia exceeded expectations in his rookie campaign.
Garcia alternated starting and relieving in his first four appearances of the season, but became a starter for good on April 29. His two relief appearances totaling six innings were good despite being tagged with a loss against the Angels in his last game in relief.
As a starter Garcia was 11-7 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. Garcia’s fWAR of 3.1 was second only to Lance McCullers Jr. (3.3) among Astros starting pitches and he struck out 9.64 and walked 2.95 per nine innings pitched.
One criticism of Garcia was he didn’t go far enough into games as a starter averaging only 5.1 innings for each.
Some of that was on Garcia and some of it was on the Astros as they closely monitored Garcia’s innings as his 155.1 regular season innings were far and away the most of his professional career. That said, it’s tough on a bullpen to know that you’re facing at least 3.2 innings every fifth day at a minimum.
Garcia’s advanced metrics are middling and his 93.3 MPH four seam fastball was hit for a .301 average. But Garcia relies on his cutter (.175), slider (.133) and curve (.179) to get batters out and the cutter and slider have Whiff% of 42% and 41% respectively.
When he’s on, it’s a thing of beauty to watch, but inconsistency has been an issue.
Garcia had an up and down postseason, getting a start against the Chicago White Sox in the American League Division Series and two each in the American League Championship Series and World Series. After getting tagged with the loss in game two of the ALDS, he came back to get the win in the series clincher with 5.2 one hit innings, while striking out seven and walking one.
He was the losing pitcher in two of the World Series games, never getting very far in either and logging a 5.68 ERA while being charged with five walks in 6.1 innings combined and finished with a combined postseason ERA of 8.04.
Garcia is destined to be a part of the Astros rotation for the foreseeable future as he’s under team control through the ’26 season. If 2021 is any indication Houston will be careful with the young Venezuelan right hander. Still, one would think the Astros would desire a little more length as Garcia only completed seven innings twice in his twenty-eight starts and none after June 18th.
A young, inexperienced, professional coming into 2021, Garcia far outperformed expectations this season and if he can shed the inconsistency there’s no reason Garcia can’t be a 14 or 15 game winner as a full time starter with the Astros.