It’s been just three starts, but it’s pretty easy to see that Deivi García belongs in the major leagues. That’s not just because of his terrific numbers thus far. Yes, a 3.06 ERA in 17 2/3 innings is great, but his presence on the mound has also stood out. It’s hard to envision a more composed 21 year-old pitcher on the mound than Deivi. Overcoming nerves and jitters as a rookie is a challenge for most, but apparently not a difficult one for García. Perhaps tonight’s start against the Blue Jays will be a bigger challenge. Toronto is familiar with Deivi now after facing him last week.
In his last start, García handled the Blue Jays with relative ease. In fact, the righty got better as the game went on, times through the order penalty be damned. His lone blemish in seven strong innings was Derek Fisher’s two-run homer in the second inning. Clearly, familiarity didn’t burn Deivi as the game went on. But going into tonight’s start, Toronto has had more time to prepare. Of course, García has an opportunity to review how he attacked the Blue Jays last time out and adjust as necessary.
Deivi threw fastball after fastball against the Jays to get things started previously. He shied away from it after the first and was a bit more unpredictable as things went on. In some innings, he went far more often to his secondaries (i.e. the 3rd and 5th). But in others, his fastball was his go to offering. Lastly, and perhaps most impressively, he started to introduce his slider at the end of the game to wrap things up. It was brilliant pitching through and through. Toronto was off balance all night.
Prior to that game against the Jays, Deivi had been much more consistent with his arsenal. Of course, we’re talking about just two previous starts, so take it for what it’s worth. That said, he was pretty comfortable pouring in fastballs almost two-thirds of the time. He also appeared to like going to his changeup more as things moved forward.
Maybe tonight Deivi doesn’t go all-in on the heater to start. Perhaps he leans on his slider earlier rather than turning to it later in the game. But who knows? Maybe as he’s warming up in the pregame bullpen, he realizes that he doesn’t have feel for his slider. Best laid plans and all. Further, there’s also something to be said about pitching toward one’s strengths. Deivi’s fastball is just that. He may be able to dominate with it again from the get go.
Now, that leaves us with how the Blue Jays might adjust. Toronto was extremely aggressive against Deivi and swung at 79.2 percent of pitches in the zone against him. That’s well above the league average 66.2 percent zone swing rate. Their logic? García is around the plate a lot. His 50.9 zone rate is higher than the 47.7 percent league rate. Might as well swing more if he’s gonna throw tons of strikes, right? Not necessarily.
Hindsight is 20/20, but it does seem like Toronto was a bit too antsy against Deivi. The rookie has shown that he’s adept at generating soft contact, much in part due to a ton of deception on his fastball. Toronto had a ton of trouble against the pitch last week. The only real damage was Fisher’s homer, which came against a fastball over the middle and a little down.
That’s pretty much the only location where Deivi’s fastball can be hit, because if it’s up in the zone, forget it. Take a look:
Pop ups and foul balls galore when Deivi gets his heater upstairs. Maybe this time, Toronto will try to lay off García upstairs a bit more often. Easier said than done, of course, especially if Deivi has his usual good command.
García has become appointment viewing this season and tonight looks like his most intriguing start yet. We’ll see if Toronto has any answers for the Yankees’ budding star.