In game two of their best of five series, the Rays will face off against Yankees rookie starter Deivi Garcia. The 21 year old righty will be making his seventh major league start, continuing a debut season where he struck out 22.6% while walking 4.1%, en route to a 4.98 ERA, 4.15 FIP, and 4.63 xFIP over 34.1 innings.
That is to say, Garcia was around league average and the Rays should expect more of the same. Matched up against Tyler Glasnow, the Rays will have a significant advantage. However, we can expect that Aaron Boone will be ready with a quick hook, swapping Garcia for Jordan Montgomery or J.A. Happ after one or so times through the lineup.
But here’s what the Rays will see, for as long as they see him:
Garcia works off a 92 mph fastball that has good rise — average velocity per the Brooks Baseball numbers, but half a standard deviation more rise than the average. He combines that with a deep and varied arsenal of an 83 mph slider, an 81 mph changeup, and a 75 mph curve.
The changeup is somewhere around average or a bit below, while I think the breaking balls are both average or above offerings, and on the bendier side. They’re slightly slower than the average slider or curve, but they each have exceptional vertical break— 1.8 standard deviations more drop than the average slider and 2.4 standard deviations more drop than the average curve.
The approach is simple. Against lefties:
- fastballs away
- changeups down and away
- a smattering of curves below the zone.
Here’s an example of the changeup, not quite managing to get away, but still having enough action and deception to work center-cut at the bottom of the zone.
- fastballs all over the zone, including up
- sliders down and away
- a smattering of curves below the zone
Here’s that slider, perfectly located on the corner:
And here’s the curve, which he’ll be dropping below to batters of both handedness.
It’s a simple approach — Rays batters, especially lefties, will know what’s coming — but the quality of the stuff is good enough that it’s not easy to hit Garcia if he executes, especially when batters are seeing those bendy breaking pitches and rising fastballs for the first time.
The Rays will need to be patient, differentiate ball from strike on the outside and bottom of the strike zone, and force Garcia to come back over the plate with his fastball. And they’ll need to get the measure of those pitches quickly, since they probably won’t be seeing them a lot.