Can Garcia fool teams multiple times?
Garcia came into the season last year relatively unknown and un-scouted, and he fooled a ton of batters. However, when you look in the numbers, you can see teams that faced him more often did better against them.
The team that he struggled the most last year with was the Angels, a team he had six starts against, giving up a tOPS 145 and a .278 BA. The Seattle Mariners, a team Garcia faced three times last year, generated a tOPS of 114.
Garcia had starts against the Chicago White Sox and the Boston Red Sox in the regular season, and both those lineups found success against him in the postseason. And lest we forget the on-fire Atlanta Braves that learned all his tricks by Game 6 of the World Series, and he gave up damage.
Not many pitchers have the ability to win against good lineups they face multiple times — that’s what makes guys like Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw and Jacob deGrom so great. Garcia isn’t at that level, but if he can keep familiar lineups off-balanced at the plate, he could make a significant jump this season.
He’ll have an early test coming up soon as he’s scheduled to face the Toronto Blue Jays, a projected top-five offense, twice in the same week. It’s still in the early days of Garcia’s career, and he’s shown some early season improvements already.
His fastball velocity touched 96 mph, and he put forward roughly six solid innings against the Angels in the home opener. If he can make these small incremental improvements, I could see Garcia being an impressive No. 2-3 starter on a contender.
And hey, if he wants to make a huge leap to an All-Star level starter this year, I wouldn’t be opposed to that either.