The arrival of top prospects at the major league level can result in a feeling of both excitement and anxiety for the fans and those on the team as well. A player like Deivi García has been on the radar of even casual fans since his meteoric rise through the minor leagues in 2019. The Yankees openly talked about him as a potential late season option at the major league level before he struggled down the stretch with Triple-A Scranton in 2019. Those struggles appear to have been overcome as Garcia flashed the stuff that made him an elite prospect with gaudy strikeout numbers on his way through the minors.
2020 Statistics: 6 starts, 34.1 IP, 4.98 ERA, 4.15 FIP, 8.65 K/9, 1.57 BB/9, 0.8 WAR
2021 Contract Status: Rookie Eligible, Free Agent in 2027, two minor league options.
Deivi Garcia arrived at the end of August as the Yankees were struggling in all facets of the game. His six-inning, four-hit debut against the Mets on August 30th seemed to infuse some energy into the team. When he stepped off the mound at the end of his fourth start he was 24.2 innings into the season, which was more than any Yankees starter had thrown in a four game stretch until Gerrit Cole’s last start of the season.
His ability to go deep into games stabilized the rotation and provided the bullpen with a chance to catch their breath. This was a big down the stretch as the bullpen work through their own bouts of inconsistency.
The biggest difference from Deivi’s late season struggles in 2019 to this year was his control. On his way through the minors, he routinely produced a BB/9 rate under three. In 2019, even as he rose rapidly through the system his BB/9 rate was 4.4. Upon reaching the majors this year, García’s control returned and he walked just 1.6 batters per nine. During his best games he also showed the ability to locate pitches inside and just outside the zone.
It is hard to know if Garcia’s control would have stayed with him for the full season, especially without a full minor league season. Yankees fans will have to take the word of veteran catcher Erik Kratz who said upon his promotion to the major leagues that “They’re ready to go. There’s no other way to say it” when asked about García and Clarke Schmidt. Kratz’s endorsement seems to indicate that García and Schmidt were both performing at a high level during their time in the bigs.
The analytics may indicate that Garcia will have to continue to improve if he is going to negotiate the league multiple times next season. He was in the bottom half of pitchers for exit velocity, hard hit percentage, xBA and several other categories. It is likely that some of his numbers are skewed by his small sample size, especially his brutal start against Boston in late September.
Questions about his durability will exist until García pitches in a full season, but he was just what they needed this fall. He has not pitched over 111.1 innings in a season, so next year we will likely take him into deeper water.
García helped the Yankees when they needed it this season. His ERA may not look flashy after one terrible start really skewed it, but the innings he gave the team were valuable. Many fans have him penciled into the back end of the rotation for 2021, and his performance this in 2020 did nothing to change that.