Maybe the New York Yankees had more of a reason to let Masahiro Tanaka leave in free agency this offseason. Though money likely played a big role, you have to think his similarities to Deivi Garcia were among the other deciding factors.
Sounds weird, right? But it’s really not!
Garcia made his spring training debut on Thursday and while he registered nine swings and misses across his two innings of work (which was good for three strikeouts), he also allowed two homers.
That issue was prevalent in his 2020 debut, which lasted six starts plus one postseason inning. Garcia allowed seven homers across those 35.1 innings of work.
By the way, we’re not saying this is a problem, at all.
Every pitcher has flaws, and fans were very much in tune with what Tanaka’s were … in addition to his ability to completely shut down an opposing lineup. That seems like the direction Garcia is heading in.
Garcia, like Tanaka, doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, but both are deceptive due to the right-handers’ ability to elevate it in the zone.
However, if they miss or if a hitter is right on it? Well…
This won’t be who Garcia is as a major league pitcher, but the similarities after what we’ve see so far are pretty striking. Take these stats, for example:
- Tanaka barrel % vs Garcia barrel %: 25% vs 20%
- Tanaka HR9 vs Garcia HR9: 1.4 vs 1.6
- Tanaka SO9 vs Garcia SO9: 8.5 vs 8.7
- Tanaka fastball velocity vs Garcia fastball velocity: 37th percentile vs 34th percentile
- Tanaka fastball spin vs Garcia fastball spin: 35th percentile vs 30th percentile
Again, this is an extremely large sample size vs an extremely small one, so there’s no definitive takeaway, but there is good reason to keep an eye on the right-hander and how he profiles similarly to the man who pitched for seven years in the Bronx.
It’s just intriguing to ponder about the Yankees’ decision making. Was Tanaka’s departure all about remaining under the luxury tax threshold? Or do they know they have a similar pitcher with higher upside in Garcia who is expected to take massive leaps over the next year or two? In all likelihood, it was probably both. And the Yankees went out and solved their “postseason” issue with the addition of Corey Kluber and added more depth with Jameson Taillon.
Nonetheless, Garcia has plenty of time to clean up these early bumps in the road, and his ceiling is just as promising as fans would like it to be.
But perhaps he’s a little less Pedro and a little more Masa.