Unlike Rapada and Eppley before him, Freddy Garcia looked like a professional pitcher the moment he stepped on the mound. Suddenly, the game had possibilities. It was those thoughts that led to another thought: Perhaps having to fill one of the gaps in the rotation with Freddy Garcia is not a bad thing. Maybe it is a good thing. Could that be possible?
Garcia has been the butt of so many Yankee jokes this season that such a thought seems inconceivable. This is the same guy that threw five wild pitches in one game. This is the same guy who might have had the worst April as a Yankee pitcher since Chien-Ming Wang‘s disastrous 2009 version. Garcia’s ERA at the end of April was 12.51. His game scores in his four starts in April were 42, 36, 21 and 22. In 14.2 innings of work, Garcia gave up 31 base runners. You cannot get much worse than that.
But June has been an entirely different story. Freddy Garcia has made five relief appearances in June. Granted, they were relief appearances. But still. Those outings covered eight innings. In those eight innings, he has allowed only four hits and no walks while striking out eight. He has allowed only one run in those innings.
And you have to give the guy a lot of credit. He is a fourteen year veteran who has won sixty percent of his career decisions. But he took his demotion to the bullpen without pouting and without mouthing off. He has apparently worked on his stuff and when called upon, has made it work. There is a lot to be said about a player who handles a bad situation like that.
And that leads us to the situation the Yankees are in now. There were all kinds of calls for Freddy Garcia to be DFA’d. Perhaps that thought left these lips once or twice too. But then a funny thing happened. Appearances by Freddy Garcia started to become good things…comforting things. And that culminated in yesterday’s outing when his appearance brought comfort and gave the Yankees a chance to win a game. He followed two wing-and-a-prayer pitchers to give a big league performance.
Who knows what will happen when Garcia starts Monday in Tampa against the rival Bay Rays. Perhaps these warm, fuzzy feelings will go up in smoke. But Freddy Garcia could surprise us too. He could provide the kind of insurance policy that looks brilliant once it is needed. For this observer, the miracle is that his outing will be anticipated and not dreaded.