It’s no secret that Freddy Garcia has been awful thus far in 2012. He’s throwing batting practice, has lasted just 1.2 IP in each of his last two starts, and sports and 9.75 ERA on the year. His spot in the rotation is very much in doubt, even his perpetually reticent manager said ‘he’ll sleep on it’ when asked if Garcia will make his next start. For his own part, Freddy seemed bewildered in yesterday’s post game interviews when asked about his performances of late. Questioned about his future in the rotation, he replied “I don’t know what’s going to happen next” and that the manager hasn’t discussed his role on the team yet “but probably it happen tomorrow”.
One thing both Garcia and the manager agreed upon is that his velocity is down, with Girardi adding that his stuff “isn’t as crisp” as it was last year, or even this year in Spring Training. So I thought we should dig through his numbers and pitch FX charts to see if there’s anything that jumps out at you. I’m always very hesitant to compare April numbers to full season stats, due to cold weather, and that often times many veteran pitchers are still building up arm strength as the season progresses. So mostly I’ll be comparing this April with last, courtesy of Texas Leaguers.
|Type||Count||Selection||Velocity||Vertical||Horizontal||Spin Angle||Spin Rate|
In terms of FB velocity, the difference isn’t all that significant. Movement on his pitches hasn’t changed much either, so the explanation being offered up by his manager doesn’t seem to hold up. Freddy wasn’t reliant on velocity all that much last year, so that struck me as odd to begin with. What has changed, rather dramatically, is his pitch selection. He’s throwing fewer FB and more Sliders. Even if you combine the 4 seam (7.8) 2 seam (17.3) and unclassified fastballs (0.7) he’s still at 25.8% for the year, as opposed to 43.4% combined for last year. Freddy doesn’t have a great FB, but he still needs to use it to set up his other pitches. He’s also throwing far more Splitters (17.3%) this year, which was typically a put away pitch for him last year that was used sparingly (4.4%) in 2011. Much of the impact of the splitter is the change in speed and downward movement, but if you make a mistake on location its just a bad fastball that’s right in the hitter’s wheelhouse. You can get away with mistakes like that on occasion, but not if you repeat them.
Ultimately, pitch selection is up to the pitcher himself. Jesus Montero was paired with Garcia late last year, on the notion that Freddy calls his own game. Perhaps the pressure of keeping his spot on the staff has influenced his pitch selection, or maybe he was just lucky last year and his luck is running out. Whatever the cause, Freddy may not get another chance to turn his luck around.
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