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Will Luis García show a better version of himself in ’23?

The 26-year-old righty has become an important rotation piece for the Astros and he’s going for his third full MLB season.

2022 World Series Workout Day Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Luis García was excellent for the Astros in 2022. As one of their back-end starters, the Venezuelan righty won 15 games, threw over 150 innings, and posted an ERA below 4.00 while barely making over a million dollars.

However, will he be able to repeat or improve what he did last year going into the new campaign and with the Astros aiming at another strong run?

I think so…

García is now more mature as a pitcher, was better in some aspects compared to what he did in 2021, and has built more stamina to go longer in games and in the season in general – which I think could be key factors throughout the upcoming campaign.

Also, he’s gained more effectiveness with his other pitches besides the four-seam fastball and the cutter, which he throws combined at 71.5 percent of the time. Last year, García used a curveball-changeup-slider mix at 28.4 percent of the time as well, punching out 42 opponents and making them hit for a .200 batting average (32-for-160).

One concerning point about García in his first full season (2021) was his lack of stamina and his struggles to go long in games. That improved a bit in 2022 as Luis was able to pitch at least six innings five more times despite making the same number of starts as in 2021 (28). Also, García had six outings in which he could not complete five innings in 2021, which happened only thrice last year.

Another key factor to consider if you want to predict what García’s 2023 season could look like is how he performed in the last month of the season in each 2021 and 2022…

  • September/October 2021: 1-2 record, 27 IP, 11 BB, 17 SO, 1.519 WHIP, 5.7 SO/9, 4.67 ERA
  • September/October 2022: 4-0 record, 29 IP, 7 BB, 25 SO, 0.931 WHIP, 7.8 SO/9, 1.86 ERA

One more big step for García is that he actually gave the Astros a chance in 2022. When the Astros scored two or fewer runs, which means poor run support, he was awful in 2021, posting a 5.25 ERA and a 1.417 WHIP over 36 innings. However, that changed dramatically last season: 2.98 ERA and a 1.081 WHIP across 57 1/3 innings pitched. That’s a big, big trend and a great stat if you’re a manager and your team is not hitting – your starter will keep you in the game!

Additionally, García has built an ability to perform and excel in “clutch” situations. In high-leverage environments in 2022, he made opponents hit for a low .501 OPS. That mark was the second-lowest number for any Astros pitcher with at least 70 opponent, high-leverage plate appearances – just below Rafael Montero’s .416 over 111 PAs.

If you’re an Astros fan, Luis García should be one of your reasons to be excited about the 2023 season, especially after the Astros let Justin Verlander go. We’ll see how it goes for the young right-hander.