There was a time this year when Luis García was struggling to pitch beyond the fifth inning and he didn’t have a clear spot in the Astros’ starting rotation. But those days are gone. Months later, García is among the hottest rookies in baseball and perhaps one of the best starters on the team.
He’s been so good lately that he’s strengthening his case for the Rookie of the Year award every fifth day. Is there a chance for him?
García didn’t have it easy to get his first win of the season. He lost his first three decisions of the campaign and had a 3.60 ERA after his seventh appearance on May 10. But the 24-year-old didn’t give up.
The righty won for the first time on May 15 against the Rangers. Since then, he’s got a 7-2 record with a 2.49 ERA across 61 1⁄3 innings. In that span, García’s allowed 47 hits and 17 earned runs, plus 18 walks and 70 strikeouts. He’s surrendered only four home runs.
Over the cited period and among pitchers with at least 60 innings since May 15 in the American League, he’s second in ERA (only behind Lance Lynn’s 2.29), fourth in opponent batting average (.210), eighth in strikeouts per nine (10.3), and first in home runs per nine (0.6).
All of this is even more meaningful when you take into account that there are 41 hurlers with more innings pitched than García in that span.
Among rookie pitchers in the junior circuit in 2021, García is tied for first place in wins with Josh Fleming and John King. Also, he’s second in ERA (only behind James Kaprielian’s 2.65), third in innings (91 1⁄3), second in strikeouts (105), and second in WHIP (1.06).
If you take a look at his potential rivals, Adolis García, Randy Arozarena, Casey Mize, and Kaprielian could be the other big candidates to win the award. But García has been a stud in the back of the rotation on a winning team with pretty high expectations. That kind of pressure might give him an edge in case there’s a nail-biter voting.
His next five scheduled starts should come against the Mariners (July 26), the Giants (August 1), the Twins (August 7), the Angels (August 14), and the Royals (August 19). By the last one of those outings, we could have a clearer horizon for the award. So far, he’s in a good position to eventually become the first Astros pitcher to win it.