First-half showings from right-hander Yimi García left many, if not all, Blue Jays fans nervous whenever he took the mound. The nine-year veteran has historically been known for his epic hot and cold streaks, so his rocky beginnings this year were not much of a shock.
The 32-year-old entered the season fresh off of a 61-outing performance the year before in which he had an impressive 3.10 ERA (a single season career-high) and 125 ERA+. Expectations were understandably high for him, as he was projected to be an important part of a strong bullpen corps.
In the aforementioned first half of the year, García allowed at least two earned runs in four of his 13 outings. His ERA after the first month of play ballooned up to 6.08 and he was rapidly losing the trust of the fan base. In May, things were going better for him until a meltdown against the Orioles saw him allowed four earned runs (five total) on five hits while recording just two outs.
In his very next appearance? Two earned runs on three hits in an inning of work suddenly had him back at the bottom in terms of which relievers the Jays could truly trust to get outs. He continued to be hold-your-breath-worthy until the month of June, when he finally began to settle down. As a matter of fact, from June 5 to August 27, García made 34 appearances and had a sparkling 1.78 ERA with 35 strikeouts and just three walks in just over 30 innings of work. That'll play.
Now that all is said and done, García had a 4.66 ERA with batters hitting .282 off of him in 40 first-half appearances. After the All-Star break, he made 33 appearances and had a 3.38 ERA. Now, batters hit just .232 and he was eased back into a role that saw him earn more high-leverage opportunities. The impressive string of performances he put in during the second half saw his numbers improve across the board. To finish out the year, batters hit just .235 off of him with an OPS+ of 80 in 47 high-leverage outings.
Taking a look at his Baseball Savant page and where his percentiles rank amongst the rest of the league, García was excellent. He finished above the 70th percentile in a ton of different categories for pitchers, which tells more of a story that some of the surface-level stats do.
AVG Exit Velocity
Hard Hit %
Once García made his 49th appearance of the season and 110th since joining the Blue Jays, he triggered a vesting option in his contract that turned his $5M club option for the 2024 season into a $6M guarantee. This turns his initial two-year, $11M deal into a three-year, $17M agreement. It's worth noting that the Jays were already likely to exercise his club option, but now he's a lock to stick with the team.
Really, he should be sticking around anyway. One of the more durable arms in the bullpen, García's gradual improvements as the 2023 season rolled on should not be taken lightly. He's earned a spot on next year's roster and should continue to be an oft-used option in John Schneider's 'pen.
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