Honestly, I was ready to write off Freddy Garcia like most people. When he posted a 12.51 ERA through his first four starts in April, I came to the conclusion that he reached the end of his career. The 35 year old righty had two month to prove himself in the bullpen, and he did just that with a sparkling 1.56 ERA through 17.1 IP. Yup, I was wrong. On Monday, he made his return back to the starting rotation, and he did more than hold his own. Garcia kept the Rays to two runs over his 5.1 IP, allowing 5 hits, 2 homeruns, 4 strikeouts, and no walks on 74 pitches. Take a look at the PITCHf/x numbers below to see how he changed his approach at the plate, and why his pitches are being hit less.
|Pitch||Selection||Velocity||V Mvt||H Mvt||Spin Angle||RPM|
Starting with the four-seam fastball, you’ll notice immediately that the velocity has increased. At the moment, I would be reluctant to say the movement has changed significantly, but his usage certainly has. Some of this is in favor of the sinker, which he is also throwing 1 mph harder. The horizontal movement here is slightly more important, as the pitch is breaking more than an inch and a half less into right handed hitter, but this might be due to a misclassification of some sinkers that were actually four-seams. Looking at the slider, we again see that he’s increased his velocity 1 mph from April to July, and he’s showing more horizontal movement away from right handed hitters. Also note that he throws a changeup and curveball, which really didn’t change much between the two months.
Then there’s the splitter, which has gained… well nothing because he dumped the pitch Monday night. Oddly enough, there hasn’t been a single line drive off the pitch all year, and his whiff rate is in the double digits, so why did he lose the splitter? I don’t know, but it worked. You’d think that a pitch running away would come in handy facing as many left handed hitters as he did on Monday, but his primary pitch was the slider, which saw five swings and misses from left handed hitters.
With increased velocity, Garcia looks like a different pitcher, but his repertoire is also changing. I don’t see how his splitter could have caused a problem in April, since the results included no linedrives or homeruns, but plenty of whiffs. There’s certainly something interesting going on with him, and I can’t wait to see what he throws against the Red Sox in his next start.
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