One of the keys to the Astros success, not only in building this amazing team, but keeping it on track is to develop talent to fill the gaps left by voids of Free Agency, and this year may be Jeremy Pena’s chance to show the Front Office as knowing what they’re doing. But I wanted to take a deeper look at last year’s sensation, Luis Garcia.
Luis García, Filthy 85mph Changeup. pic.twitter.com/Wnp8yWhD7s— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 27, 2021
Who is Luis Garcia?
What immediately stands out about Luis Garcia is an unconventional wind-up, something that is not seen often in the modern age of pitching. Luckily for Luis Garcia, the Astros and Strom, in particular, are huge fans of Paul Nyman’s work and believe in the rhythm and flow of motion a lot more than the structured mechanics from the Tom House end of the world, making the Astros an excellent fit to make use of his unique wind-up.
Garcia made his debut for a brief stint in 2020, but 2021 truly allowed us to get a good picture of this pitcher and everything he had to offer, and what a show it was.
Garcia put up 155.1 innings of 3.48 ERA baseball, with a 9.68 K/9 / 2.90 BB/9 coming in second place for the Rookie of the Year!
Those kinds of results are impressive for a pitcher regardless, but they are outstanding especially when you consider this was his 24-year-old season, and other than the 12 IP stint last season, had not pitched above A+.
Garcia has taken a really interesting path to the majors, while he was dominant across his stint in the minors, he really did not have much time there, and was never very highly rated as a prospect.
In 2019, he came in at #19 on Fangraphs’ top 40 Astros Prospects with the following to say:
He did not make a lot of other sites top 10/30/50.
So you’re probably wondering if he can repeat his results. After all, we’d be getting to borderline ace production at 24.
The advanced stats were not quite as kind with his xERA (3.95), xFIP (3.93), SIERA (3.91) all looking like regression would be likely for our up and coming star. However, I think that there’s another element that comes into play here that could help explain and mitigate the risk slightly.
You see, Garcia has never thrown 110 IP in a season before. Last year, he not only threw the 155 in the regular season but added another 15.2 in the postseason.
In some ways, it was the story of 2 seasons. The first half had Garcia wrapping up with a 3.06 ERA across 85.1 IP vs a 3.99 ERA in the second half.
You could see Garcia tire as the season wore on. His 4-seamer coming in at 94 mph in July dropped to 92.7 and 93.2 mph in August and September respectively. The resulting xwOBA shows a month by month look:
The projections for next year range from 139-168 IP of 3.89-4.26 ERA baseball (good for 1.8-2.7 WAR).
Those numbers may not scream ace the way that you’d like but are very solid results and a 2.7 WAR projection would rank him 3rd on the Astros (behind Verlander’s 3.4 and Valdez’s 2.9). While projection systems often air on the side of caution, it makes sense why he would model this way, his peculiar path to the MLB likely is an anomaly for the projection systems as well.
The 2.7 WAR Depth Charts projects Ranks #51 in SP WAR and is tied with names such as Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, and Stephen Strasburg.
I’m usually a strong believer in analytics, and I can definitely see how the analytics got to the results they did. But, my gut thinks he continues to advance next season, not just exceeding the projections they have listed out, but his 2020 season as well.
I think we’ll see alterations to Garcia’s pitch usage, chipping away at his 4-seamer usage (used 44.7% of the time, 19.1% Whiff% / .388 xwOBA). Garcia’s Cutter (used 22.6%, 42% Whiff% / .231 xwOBA) and Slider (used 12.4%, 41% Whiff% / .193 xwOBA) have been absolutely devastating pitches in his arsenal.
I am excited to see how he winds up this season!
Do you think Garcia will beat his Depth Chart Projections?
This poll is closed
Yes - and will beat 2021 results
He will beat projections, but worse than 2021
The projections seem right.
He will perform below the level projected.