Blue Jays: The small sample size analysis of Jaime Garcia

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 08: Jaime Garcia
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 08: Jaime Garcia /

The Toronto Blue Jays schedule has been completed out of whack due to Saturday and Sunday’s games at the Cleveland Indians being postponed due to weather. Monday’s game was also postponed due to weather but due to a hole being punctured in the Rogers Centre roof because of ice falling off the CN Tower. Tomorrow’s starter for Game 1 is Jaime Garcia, who with a small sample size of two starts has looked quite good.

The story of Jaime Garcia‘s career has been told by lots on Jays Journal, so I’ll save the journey to the past save for a reminder that Garcia, when healthy, has proven to be a very good starter. His ability to throw all of his pitches at any time for strikes has made Garcia be a difficult pitcher to hit and square up throughout his career.

Through two starts, Garcia has posted some encouraging numbers:

  • 2018: 1-0, 11.1 IP, 9.53 K/9, 3.18 BB/9, 1.59 HR/9, 40.7 GB%, 18.2 HR/FB%, 3.18 ERA, 4.56 FIP

There are a few things that stand out right away to me. Garcia is striking out more than two more batters over 9 innings than his career. His HR/9 is well above his 2017 total and his groundball percentage is down considerably. His ERA is very nice looking at 3.18. There have definitely been some good signs to the start Jaime Garcia has had to his Blue Jays career.

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While Garcia’s surface stats appear to be good, there are a few things that will suggest he comes back down to career norms sooner rather than later. His HR/FB% is still quite high, but that was to be expected with Garcia. If he doesn’t keep the ball down, it usually leaves the yard. Garcia has also gotten some good luck go his way as evidenced by his 4.56 FIP. He’s allowed hard contact thus far at a rate of 46.4%. The previous two seasons, that number was down at 31.1% and 30.5%.

It’s unlikely Garcia keeps his strikeout rate this high. He’s never had a full season where his K/9 has been higher than 7.86. The walks may be a slight issue for the year, but when those groundballs get working again, those should be erased rather quickly. When the groundballs get rolling again, the hard contact likely will come down as well. However, batters are making contact on balls in the zone at 95.1%.

One other thing to note, that despite Garcia’s success so far, his velocity is down. His fastball is down to an average of 89.4 MPH compared to 91.3 last season. All of Garcia’s pitches save for his slider are down in velocity, which could be an indicator as to the hard contact and lack of groundballs.

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It will be interesting to revisit these numbers after 10 starts to see if these trends are continuing. We shall see if Garcia’s K/9 stays high or if the velocity remains down. The hard contact might become an issue, but with a very small sample size, Garcia has looked good despite the red flags.