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Understanding why Jaime Garcia was included on the ALDS roster

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This can’t end well, right?

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays
Shh don’t tell anyone I’m here
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re like me, you’re a baseball fan. If you’re like me, you’re a Yankee fan. If you’re like me, you’ve watched the Yankees this season and enjoyed the ride. What’s not to enjoy? They exceed expectations and are playing about as well as any other team in baseball. If you’re like me, you’re a Yankee fan and a baseball fan and presumably you’ve watched baseball so you’re wondering what exactly Jaime Garcia is doing on a playoff roster.

I don’t blame you if you forgot Garcia was even a Yankee this year. I almost left him off the 2017 Sporcle quiz. Then I remembered that it wasn’t all that great this year, and that’s how I remembered to put Garcia in and get that coveted 46th player out of 51. So when the Yankees announced their official ALDS roster, it was kind of surprising to see Garcia on that list. He and his 4.82 ERA (4.87 FIP) had no business being on there. So why is he?

He’s certainly not going to be in the rotation. Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, CC Sabathia, and Masahiro Tanaka will make up the Yankee rotation. Even if there was a need in the rotation, the first man up would be Jordan Montgomery. Montgomery, incidentally, also made the ALDS roster and he’ll presumably be the long-man. If Joe Girardi needs any length, Montgomery should be the first option.

Theoretically, Garcia could be a “back-up” long-man. If Montgomery pitched three innings one day, and he needs a few innings out of someone the next, Garcia could fill that role. Then again, if that’s actually happening we should all just be drinking and eating Arby’s so who cares?

On the Wild Card roster, the Yankees included Chasen Shreve to be the second lefty out of the bullpen. Aroldis Chapman is the one, but he’s obviously tied down to that closer’s role again. That’s where things actually get a bit interesting.

While neither Shreve or Garcia instill a ton of confidence, at least Shreve has experience in short relief. Shreve hasn’t been great this year, but at he hasn’t been nearly as bad as he was last year. So why not just go with the more, and I use this term loosely, “proven” commodity in that role?

As disappointing as Garcia has been this year overall, he’s actually done one thing surprisingly well. The first time through the order, Garcia has done a decent job of keeping runners in check. Hitters are slashing just .208/.264/.330 against him with an OPS+ of 63. It’s the second (.262/.342/.433, 100 OPS+) and especially third time (.338/.416/.573, 148 OPS+) through the order that Garcia runs into trouble. So using him in short relief could actually work (and it did work last night when pitched 2.2 scoreless innings).

It’s his ability to potentially be used in both short and long relief that allows Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman to take a gamble on him. Though, at the end of the day, if Garcia’s actually pitching in a game things have probably gone wrong (sadly, also true last night). That would’ve been the case, no matter who took this spot. I really wouldn’t want to see Shreve pitching in a postseason game either. When you’re using that spot for someone you don’t want to see, might as well roll the dice on someone who benefits in multiple ways.

But really, if you see Garcia getting into any of these games against the Cleveland baseball team: Enjoy Arby’s.

*Season statistics provided courtesy of Baseball Reference