We’re marching right along with the San Francisco Giants season reviews, and next up is right-handed reliever Rico Garcia.
12 games, 10 innings, 13 hits, 4 walks, 0 hit by pitch, 1 home run, 7 strikeouts, 1.700 WHIP
5.40 ERA, 4.29 FIP, 0.0 rWAR, 0.0 fWAR
Status throughout the season
Garcia somewhat surprisingly made the Opening Day roster. He was optioned to the Alternate Training Site on Aug. 12 when Trevor Cahill was activated, and recalled for the final few games when Sam Coonrod was placed on the Injured List.
Prior to the start of the season, manager Gabe Kapler said the Giants were eschewing traditional pitching labels and instead placing their pitchers in one of three buckets: pitchers who can throw a lot of innings; pitchers who can throw one hard inning and then need some recovery time; and pitchers who can pitch on back-to-back days.
Garcia proved to belong to the latter category. Despite being a surprising addition to the Opening Day roster, the 26-year old righty pitched in the first game of the season, and then again in the second game, and then again in the fourth game.
He didn’t have a great season, but it’s worth noting that he wasn’t the team’s first choice, either. He was optioned as the Giants got healthy, and only returned when they lost their health again. But he stayed ready.
Ultimately, his stat line was damaged by two disastrous appearances right before being optioned. On Aug. 6, at dreaded Coors Field, Garcia blew a lead by giving up 3 runs to the Colorado Rockies without recording an out. Just a few days later he gave up 5 hits and 2 earned runs to the Houston Astros, in just 0.2 innings.
Now, saying a pitcher was good if you take out the bad games is like bragging about how great your run defense was if you remove the trio of 80-yard touchdown runs. But still — in the 10 outings and 9.1 innings that weren’t those disastrous appearances, he gave up just 1 run and 5 hits.
It was a sign that there’s potentially something intriguing in his arm, especially when you account for his very high BABIP (.375) which at least partially explains the high ERA (5.40). That said, the FIP (4.29) and xFIP (4.92) don’t paint a sterling picture, nor does the 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings. And he doesn’t have a track record of being a strong strikeout pitcher in the Minor Leagues.
So, in conclusion, it’s pretty easy to chalk up Garcia’s suboptimal season to a small sample size, and even easier to think that it’s representative of who he is and was.
But he was ready when the Giants called on him, and he was able to pitch in any situation on any day, which was vital given the Giants season-long pitching struggles. That, combined with the spectacular beard, at least leaves me with positive memories of his season.
Role in 2021
Garcia certainly didn’t pin down a spot in 2021’s bullpen. But the Giants usually have a reason for picking up players, and unless those players are disastrous or on the older end of the spectrum — and Garcia is neither — they usually stick around for a while.
I would expect him to have a similar role in 2021: someone who spends much of the year in Sacramento, and is called up when the team is lacking bullpen depth and needs a reliable arm.
There’s value in that.
This grade would be a lot higher if it were just for the beard.
How would you grade Rico Garcia’s season?
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