With Marcus Stroma poised to return from the disabled list, there is set to be a battle at the end of the rotation.
Going into the season Jaime Garcia was set to be the fifth man in the rotation. When the Toronto Blue Jays signed the southpaw starter his ERA was bouncing around 4 for his career and he seemed to be a fairly consistent starter.
Now it’s up in the air. Garcia has some unexpected competition in the form of Sam Gaviglio who has been a nice surprise for the Jays. Gaviglio hasn’t been exactly “lights out,” but he does pitch about as well as Toronto needs him to.
When Marcus Stroman comes back the Blue Jays will have to make a tough decision regarding who will be their fifth starter. So I’m going to do my best to help make sense of this impending situation the team is going to face.
Garcia has been a constant in the rotation throughout the season so far, but his numbers aren’t great. He has a 5.52 ERA and a WHIP of 1.51. In nine starts he has 2 wins and 3 losses. His basic surface stats aren’t flashy by any means, so let’s dig in deeper.
Garcia’s biggest problem is a need to establish a first-pitch strike. There’s nothing wrong with having a count in your favour, but he’s leaving it too open. Through 23 of the batters that have made contact on his pitches on a 0-0 count, 10 of them have a hit. That’s an average of .435 which definitely isn’t great. However, Garcia gets much worse when he falls behind. When the count is 1-0 batters are averaging .500 and when it’s 1-1 there batting .600. Garcia gains the advantage the longer he can draw out the at-bat as those above numbers drop drastically. That will then affect how long he can go for per game.
One thing that goes in his favour, is his consistency to pitch to batters over and over again. When batters see Garcia for 2 or even 3 times, they average about .270. Not to mention he has much more experience as a starter, which never hurts.
Gaviglio really came out of nowhere for the Blue Jays. He was originally organization depth as a starter and maybe a solid long reliever for the bullpen. Nothing more. He’s starting to make himself heard as he continues to impress as a starter with the few opportunities that he is given.
Through the 3 full starts that Gaviglio has done (I’m only considering 3 of them starts because Toronto let him go more than 4 innings) he has a 2.14 ERA and a season WHIP of 1.02. On the surface, these numbers are much better than Garcia’s but let’s look in further.
He’s good at getting a first-pitch strike past batters who are only averaging .167 when batters make contact on the first pitch. As well as a total opponent average of .220. That is a full fifty points less than Garcia’s .270.
The only place where Garcia is doing better statistically is when he goes through the batting order more than once. Gaviglio really starts to struggle the longer he stays in. His first time through the order, hitters average .142, the second time .280, then the third time is .357. Not pretty
Who to choose?
I fully believe that Jamie Garcia’s appearance against the Detroit Tigers will help decide who is going to be the fifth man for the foreseeable future. Sure he had a good outing against Philadelphia last time he took the mound but that doesn’t make up for an entire poor season thus far.
Toronto needs to ride the hot hand right now and let Gaviglio get more reps as a starter because he has earned it. The Blue Jays need to do something to shake up the landscape of the franchise. Because right now it is not working as it is. This is a good place as any to start.