Blue Jays 2024 Projections – Yimi Garcia and Yariel Rodríguez

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Prasad
11 days ago
The Toronto Blue Jays have a well-padded bullpen staff with both longevity and rapid-fire options. So far, the team’s bullpen has done its job in providing relief for their starters, filling the set-up role, and executing the closer role while names like Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson were unavailable due to injury. 
This projection pair showcases two right-handed pitchers who can play a big role in most deployments. First, we’ll talk about Yimi Garcia, Toronto’s backup closer, and then we’ll talk about Yariel Rodríguez, who can be used as a starting pitcher or in leverage relief work. 
The hard-throwing Garcia has had his troubles in the past, but when he’s on, he’s on. His presence out of the pen is trusted and established in the majority of the situations he enters. The Blue Jays also signed righty-Cuban pitcher Yariel Rodriguez, who was recently brought up to the big club.
Yimi Garcia was consistently depended on by the Blue Jays in relief situations that entailed long-inning and short-inning door-shutters. He pitched 61 innings in 2022 and 66 innings last year. In 2023, he completed the year with a 4.09 ERA, a 3-4 win-loss record and 3 games saved. Garcia has been highly depended on as a reliever, especially in the late innings when the game was on the edge. Thankfully, he’s a strike-thrower with substantial velocity and pitch placement capabilities; the problem becomes when he’s not hitting his spots, especially against the cream-of-the-crop bats late in the game. 
In 2023, he struck out 79 hitters and walked 15; he allowed 30 earned runs, five unearned, over 67 hits. If Garcia misses spots, he is usually taken to town, and it’s not a good day. The situations he’s submerged in are usually volatile. 
Garcia is perceived as a regular late-inning weapon, who has seen himself in the closer role. His six pitch options and metrics make him almost the perfect set-up pitcher. His four-seam fastball and curveball were his most used pitches in 2023, and they represented the second and fourth-highest put-away percentages. His fastball was the most thrown pitch and naturally represented the most hit pitch, and the most home runs afforded. Where will he find more success in those late innings? Increasing the curveball and sinker usage may mitigate the chances of missing a spot and getting burnt in certain scenarios. 
In 2024, Garcia will see more innings as he’s establishing his role out of the pen. His projection will sit under a 4.00 ERA, approximately 3.15-3.35 range. He will strike out 80+ hitters, keeping walks below 35. So far this year, Garcia has been utilized in the later innings and has accumulated 11 strikeouts while only walking one hitter in 7.2 innings; he’s picked up two saves so far. His use out of the bullpen will be extremely crucial for the Jays. 
Yariel Rodriguez is a spectacular pick-up for the Blue Jays. The right-hander was picked up after playing a full season in Japan in 2022 and representing Cuba in the World Baseball Classic, where he was evaluated. Rodriguez employs a good pitch arsenal with a strong physical makeup and incorporates a consistent Japanese-style delivery. 
His velocity is major-league quality, and he has options to survive and thrive on the staff. As of right now, Rodriguez will be a bullpen guy and may see between 45-60 innings on the year in a relief role. His projection will sit below 3.00 ERA with a range of 55 strikeouts and 15-20 walks. 
Given the uncertainty around Alek Manoah, who has gone from Opening Day starter to maybe a number five starter in Toronto’s rotation, having Rodríguez in the mix offers the team some stability. He was successful in his first career start with Bowden Francis providing some bulk innings behind him. The hope for the Blue Jays is that the Cuban righty can be what Ross Stripling was for them a couple of seasons ago, both a strong middle reliever and a spot starter.

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