As the Yankees and Dodgers play this weekend, their series represents a confluence of past, present, and future. Both teams are historic, iconic franchises who’ve met in 11 (!) World Series matchups. Both teams are battling it out for the best record in baseball (as much a teams ‘battle’ for that ‘title’). Both teams could reasonably call this a World Series preview. Both teams have young, talented players on their rosters and in their farms to keep them competitive for a long time coming. That brings us to Deivi Garcia.
In a move to control his innings and (possibly) prepare him for a September call up, the Yankees have shifted Garcia to the bullpen. Keeping with our theme, let’s talk about what this means for the past, present, and future of Deivi Garcia.
The Yankees, like every organization, give call ups to players who deserve it at the end of the year. Given how he’s pitched this season, Garcia definitely deserves it. He’s also built up enough innings that, at present, he needs them monitored and controlled so he’s not too highly taxed. As for the future, there are potential benefits for each party.
For the Yankees, they may get a boost to their bullpen in an important month of the season. If things go really right, maybe Garcia becomes a weapon in the playoffs. For Garcia, he gets to face Major League hitters and, well, be in the Majors instead of the minors. But, as it always does, the longer term future looms over this move and it makes me think of the past.
As an organization top to bottom, the Yankees are a lot smarter than they used to be. That’s saying something, too, because they’ve always been a fairly smart organization. I have confidence that even if the Yankees use Garcia as a bullpen option down the stretch and in the playoffs, they will not alter his development path and make him a reliever going forward–at least not without trying him as a starter.
Would the Yankees be justified in eventually making Garcia a reliever? Probably, given his relatively small stature. But I think they’re smart enough to resist that urge and smart enough to ride out his development until that’s the only option. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that and Garcia flourishes as a starter.
The Yankees wouldn’t take fan sentiment into account, but I do worry about what’ll happen to the fanbase if and when Garcia has success out of the Major League bullpen. There’s definitely a set of fans that will want him to switch to the pen permanently to ‘impact more games’ and so his ‘stuff can play up more.’ I spilled a lot of digital ink arguing against this ten, eleven years ago and I’d rather not do it again. I’d like to think the fanbase has wised up over the years, just as the ball club has, but I’m not sure that’s the case. Hopefully, the Yankees snuff this out in 2020 and, regardless of how 2019 ends, they set Garcia up as a starter for the long run.
A good team considers its past, capitalizes on its present, and plans for its future. With Garcia, the Yankees seem to be doing all three of those things. With care, attention, and a little bit of luck, Garcia can turn out exactly the way they want him.