Luis Garcia was a bit of a forgotten man in the Astros rotation during the regular season last year before turning in a legendary relief appearance in Game 3 of the ALDS, closing out the 18-inning affair with five scoreless innings in relief. In his first appearance of the World Baseball Classic, Garcia picked up right where he left off, dominating the Dominican Republic lineup over three shutout relief innings.
Astros first base coach Omar Lopez is managing Team Venezuela. With his team leading 3-1, Lopez turned the game over to a familiar face, entrusting Garcia to preserve the lead. Luis did just that.
Over his three innings of work, Garcia threw 53 pitches, allowed no hits, walked two and struck out seven. Team Dominican Republic is loaded, boasting one of the deepest baseball lineups ever assembled.
The seven he struck out were Rafael Devers, Manny Machado, Julio Rodríguez, Teoscar Hernandez, Jeimer Candelario, Robinson Cano and Astros teammate Jeremy Peña. Garcia joked after the game that the plan of attack when facing Peña was exclusively sliders.
Though the World Baseball Classic does not operate under the same pitch clock and ball enforcement rules that swept through the MLB this offseason, Garcia stuck to his new delivery to obtain his tremendous results. Through a small Spring Training and World Baseball Classic sample size, Garcia has run roughshod on opposing lineups since ditching his rock the baby windup.
Marcus Stroman of the Chicago Cubs replied to Pitching Ninja after Garcia’s Spring Training debut, indicating Garcia will be even better and more accurate with his new motion due to less head movement.
So far, so good for Luis. If this is the Garcia that takes the bump every fifth/sixth day for the Astros this season, the rest of the league is in serious trouble.
Garcia, Lopez, Jose Altuve and the rest of Team Venezuela went on to defeat Team Dominican Republic 5-1.