(Lookin' good, Fred. Courtesy of The AP)
It was another solid no-run performance for Freduardo Garcia today, this one also of the hitless and walkless variety, as he helped strengthen his case to win one of the 'back of the rotation' spots. He was so good and so efficient, in fact, that he actually had a bullpen session after he was taken out of the game to reach his pitch count. But some points in the LoHud wrap-up of his outing seemed like they were hinting at excessive praise, and I think they warrant being put in perspective. Things such as:
"Garcia has been pitching at 88-89 mph with his fastball. There were times last season when Garcia was working at 85-86.. "
Yeah, and those times were once the season had begun and his arm had more work and more wear and tear on it and fatigue was factoring in. The guy has thrown 5 innings and a handful of bullpen sessions so far in March after 4+ months off. He's fresh. His fastball SHOULD be faster than it usually sits.
"... he said his shoulder feels stronger, and that lively fastball has made his other pitches more effective."
See previous comment. It's not note- or newsworthy that Garcia's fastball and arm strength are good right now. He hasn't pitched that much. Let's let the guy start building up some innings and multiple offspeed pitches on the arm and see where his velocity is then before we start heaping praise on him. I would also argue that 88-89 MPH hardly qualifies as "lively."
“I feel way better this year than last year in the course of the season,” Garcia said. “I think maybe I felt that way three or four games, like I feel now.”
Duh, Freddy. Duh. And the second part of that statement by Garcia solidifies the point I'm trying to make here. It's great that he feels great right now, but he only felt great for a handful of starts last year. I would expect that there is a correlation between his past history of losing velocity and arm strength as the number of starts increased, as well as a correlation between his few starts with low pitch counts so far this ST and his increased velocity. I would also argue that what happens with that velocity and arm strength as his number of starts increases this year is more important than what happens with them after 2 ST outings with limited pitch counts.
Don't get me wrong. I'm glad Garcia is having this kind of success early in camp, especially given his horrendous track record of stumbling out of the gate. I came into this season expecting only slightly more from him than I did from Colon, which was still nothing, and to see him pitch well, even in this kind of controlled ST setting, gives me a little more confidence that the Yankees could at least get a few quality innings out of him this season.
But being a realist and being logical, I can't start shredding office documents for a ticker tape parade for him because he's throwing high-80s in 5 ST innings. Let's keep monitoring Garcia and see how well the velocity and arm strength holds up as he moves forward and starts throwing more pitches before we get too excited.