If the Astros Will Trade a Starter, Who Should it Be?
Garcia is one of the many pitchers on this staff who debuted in the shortened 2020 season. For his career, he has a 3.57 ERA in 267 innings, and while he was occasionally used out of the bullpen in 2020 and 2021, he has been a full-time starter in 2022. Looking at this season only, he has a 3.81 ERA, 3.37 xERA, 4.16 FIP, 1.08 WHIP, and 107 strikeouts in 99.1 innings. In the grouping of himself, Urquidy, and Javier, he ranks 2nd out of 3 in every single one of those categories.
He has been able to maintain the same swing-and-miss stuff as he did last year, but the home run ball has hurt him a lot more than it did in 2021 (17 home runs allowed in 2022, only 2 fewer than last year in about two-thirds of the innings). He’s allowing less quality contact overall, and the amount of traffic on the base paths is lower than it was, but opponents are barreling up his pitches – which, again, is the best kind of contact a hitter can make – a little too much for comfort.
He strikes out more than a batter per inning, which is always a plus, and unlike Cristian Javier, he doesn’t walk a lot of batters to go along with that. The biggest knock against him is that, while Urquidy has bounced back big-time from a rough start to the year and Javier has made great strides compared to his 2021, Garcia is the only young pitcher on the staff (including Valdez) that has not shown marginal improvement compared to last year, and while he still has room to grow at age 25, every other Astro in this boat has expanded their ceiling as of late.
Garcia was the one that was put into the biggest games of the Astros’ season a year ago with Verlander and McCullers unavailable, and that includes Game 6 of the World Series against the Braves, but he did not deliver, posting an 8.04 ERA in 5 postseason starts. While a 25-year-old’s postseason track record should not be taken highly into consideration in trade talks, his is worse than both Urquidy’s and Javier’s. In all, Garcia is a consistent and talented young pitcher, but questions about his ceiling have made his long-term value to the Astros (in comparison to their other young arms) somewhat blurry.