Monday, April 25, 2011
Redemption Song, Part III: Freddy Garcia
I really meant to write this piece before the season started because I believed Freddy could be a solid contributor, not only to the Yankees, but to your fantasy teams as well. However, I am kind of glad I got too busy and had to wait, because now I have actual in-game statistics from this season to show you and not just my theories and stats from 2010.
Here's a little history about Freddy "The Chief" Garcia. In 1993 the Houston Astros signed the big, hard throwing righty as an international free agent out of Venezuela. Like many prospects from many teams, Freddy was traded by the Astros as they tried to make a World Series push in 1998. Freddy and fellow Venezuelan Carlos Guillen were traded to the Mariners for Randy Johnson. The Astros did not win the 1998 World Series, and by 1999 the Mariners had a 17 game winning rookie on their staff. Two years later, Freddy led the league in ERA and nearly brought home the Cy Young Award. He continued solid play into the early 2000s, and then, like many pitchers in their 30s, he ran into arm trouble. His fastball soon disappeared, and Freddy began struggling. From 2007-2009, injuries limited Garcia to 23 major league starts for four different organizations.
In 2010, Freddy came seemingly out of nowhere to make 28 starts for the White Sox, winning 12 games and putting up a 4.64 ERA. In today's American League, those are very serviceable numbers. If you dig a little deeper, you find that Freddy had 4 starts in which he was knocked around very badly, giving up 25 earned runs in only 9 combined innings. In his other 24 starts, Garcia put up a 3.38 ERA. I think any team would take 24 starts of 3.38 ERA from their number 5 starter, and i bet many fantasy owners would take that as well.
So that would have been my assessment had I written this post on March 25th instead of April 25th. How would I have looked now, a month into the season? Thankfully, Freddy would have made me look very good so far. After allowing a run in relief against the Red Sox early in the season, Freddy joined the Yankees rotation and has since thrown 12 scoreless innings in his two starts of 2011. He has only allowed 7 base runners and struck out 8 batters in those 12 innings. This includes 6 shutout innings against the vaunted (although sans-Hamilton) Texas Rangers offense, and 6 shutout innings in against the Orioles in Camden Yards, a notoriously good hitter's ballpark.
Nowadays, Freddy does it with a lot of "junk" pitches. His mid-nineties fastball has been gone for a long time. He can still get it up there at 87-90 mph when he needs to, but most of his success comes from keeping hitters off balance with splitters, changeups, and whatever other tricks he can pull out of the Eddie Harris Pitching Book ("You put snot...on the ball?"). The bottom line is this. There are going to be days when Freddy can't locate his pitches, and his 87 mph fast ball will be up and over the plate, and he will get hammered. If you can live with that happening once a month or so, then pick him up. The injury history is a little scary as well but, realistically, anybody could get hurt at any time. You might be able to ride Freddy's jalapeño specials (that's a Major League reference, it's not racist) to some solid numbers while his arm remains attached.
Also, he really, really looks like The Rock. How can you not pick him up?? If you smell what The Chief is Cookin'!