2. Deivi Garcia’s Zip
Again, we’re not calling spring training the gospel. We just think it’s absolutely possible to buy in on what the diminutive Deivi Garcia is selling, considering he’s succeeding not through magic and guile, but by creating as much separation between his fastball and slow stuff as he ever has.
Thanks in large part to the Yankees’ tutelage in Matt Blake’s lab, Garcia’s been consistently hitting 95 and 96, his fastest velocity since early 2021 and about 3-4 MPH harder than his recent baselines.
That is a massive difference.
Again, hard data. Wax poetic about Albert Abreu’s shutout spring or grouse about Chad Green giving up the home run ball all you want, but what really matters is … who’s nasty? And, if there are any massive performance upgrades, what’s driving them?
For Garcia, the changing trends are obvious. After breaking through to the big leagues as a shifty righty reliant on deception, he’s now popping his fastball at an elevated velocity. We’re not talking 92-to-99; we’re just talking about enough of a bounce to get by with a mistake middle-middle every so often. That’s huge.
Pedro Martinez was an avowed fan of the old Garcia, but that pitcher began to sink into the ether after he was solved by the Red Sox late in 2020, the bounced from a playoff start after allowing one — count ’em, one — home run. The 2020 vintage of Garcia was often solid at limiting hard contact (remember what he did to the Jays?), but didn’t possess that extra tick or two to help himself out of jams if he wasn’t locating.
Many had all but written off the kid after a 2021 season in which his ERA approached 7.00 at Triple-A and he piled up more walks than pitches thrown (unofficial stat). Now? We’re excited to see what he can add as a depth piece, lined up alongside Luis Gil and the man in our No. 1 spot.