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Deivi García might as well be the answer for the Yankees’ rotation

Yes, he is inexperienced, and perhaps the Yankees should have brought a starter. But they didn’t, and García earned another chance with an impressive start

MLB: Game Two-New York Mets at New York Yankees Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees were connected to pitchers like Mike Clevinger, Taijuan Walker, Kevin Gausman, Mike Minor and Robbie Ray prior to yesterday’s trade deadline. Trevor Bauer and Dylan Bundy’s names were also thrown around. However, they came away empty-handed, with no major (or minor) transactions before four o’clock.

While the team clearly has some depth issues on the pitching side of things, especially when it comes to relievers, that the Yankees didn’t acquire any pitchers on Monday means they didn’t want to meet what they thought were high asking prices around the league. I certainly am not familiarized with negotiations, but I’m sure Clarke Schmidt and Deivi Garcia’s names came up frequently, and they didn’t want to give them away.

Whether we like it or not, there might be a reason why the Yankees want to hold on to their prized pitching prospects. We haven’t yet seen Schmidt in the bigs, but we already had a preview of what García can do to an opposing team’s lineup.

On Sunday, the 21-year-old righty hurled six innings against the Mets, allowing just an unearned run on four hits, while striking out six. Perhaps more importantly, knowing García’s time in the minor leagues, is the fact that he handed out no free passes.

Walks were usually a problem for him during his time as a prospect. Last year, he averaged 4.08 BB/9 in 17.2 Class-A Advanced innings; 4.36 BB/9 in 53.2 Double-A frames and 4.50 BB/9 in 40 Triple-A innings.

We can’t say that García finally overcame his control issues with a sample of six major-league innings. But Sunday’s start was incredibly encouraging for a young man that, given the Yankees’ inactivity at the deadline, may pitch a lot of important innings this season.

Hall of Fame praise

Of the 75 pitches Garcia threw, 51 were strikes. He earned praise from coaches, teammates, and a very prominent figure of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry: Pedro Martínez.

The Hall-of-Fame pitcher said, via Twitter, that García “did a great job at mixing in his pitches, his body looked stable, and fully extended. I was impressed with the way he commanded his pitches.”

“Deivi Garcia’s presence on the mound was oustanding, and his balance on the mound too!” Martínez stated. Not too shabby!

Again, we know García can strike people out with the best of them. Last year, he fanned 165 batters in 111.1 frames across the three levels. Commanding his pitches will be the key for success for him.

On Sunday, he used his fastball 57.3% of the time. He did with no fear, and it was an effective pitch for him, with a .167 batting average and an 83.8 mph average exit velocity. His best secondary weapon is a devastating curveball that he employed 25.3% of the time with great results, including a 37.5% whiff rate. The use of his changeup (10.7%) and slider (6.7%) helped him keep hitters honest.

Here are his fastball, curveball and changeup (in that order):

That curveball is just nuts: almost 3,000 rpm!

As of now, it’s not clear whether García will stick in the Yankees’ rotation in the short-term. In fact, he was optioned to the team’s alternate training site for the time being. However, the Bombers could opt to keep him on schedule and call him up to start Friday, his next scheduled day.

Even if he doesn’t enter the rotation this week, he should be up to help the team in some form soon enough. He earned that opportunity with a great first showing.

And perhaps he will struggle at some point. But if he is going to help the Yankees down the road, he needs to be familiarized with the bright lights of pitching in New York and he needs to learn how to make adjustments on the go. The only way that can happen is with regular reps against top competition.

There is risk in trusting García with a big role right now. But the rewards could be huge.