Blue Jays – Yimi García has stepped up in a big way with Swanson and Romano sidelined

Photo credit:© Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Shushkewich
2 months ago
After boasting a relatively healthy pitching staff last year, the Toronto Blue Jays were dealt some tough blows when it was announced that Alek Manoah, Erik Swanson, and Jordan Romano would all begin the season on the injured list. Losing Manoah created an opportunity for Bowden Francis to slot into the rotation. With Swanson and Romano sidelined, this created a hole at the back end of the bullpen, as these two were relied upon in a lot of high-pressure situations all last year.
With these two relievers on the shelf, the Blue Jays called upon Nate Pearson, Mitch White, and Wes Parsons (who has since been DFA’d) to fill in the open spots within the relief corps for Opening Day. In losing both Swanson and Romano, the Jays’ coaching staff was going to need to turn to some of their other veteran arms late in games, with Chad Green appearing to be the go-to closer option during Romano’s absence.
One pitcher who deserves some credit out of the gate is right-hander Yimi García.

Blue Jays reliever Yimi García starting strong

García is no stranger to pitching late in games or when the situation on the mound has become difficult but he usually shares that responsibility with Swanson and Tim Mayza, with the southpaw handling left-handed batters. With the former Mariner not available, García has been saved for these situations to help the Blue Jays win ball games or keep the team in the game and so far, he has come through.
Through three outings, the Dominican product has allowed just one hit with two strikeouts while owning a 1.47 FIP and pitching to a 0.429 WHIP through 2 1/3 innings. Through the eight batters he has faced, García has held opponents to a .167 BAbip and has routinely generated soft contact fly-balls that have helped his team get out of tough situations.
In his first outing against the Rays, he replaced Trevor Richards after the right-hander allowed a single with one out on the board and he didn’t allow a hit or a run to score. García’s latest outing against the Yankees also put the right-hander in a tough spot, as he replaced Yusei Kikuchi in the sixth inning and was tasked with facing Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton with one out. The Jays pitcher got the former AL MVP to strikeout swinging on four pitches and then got Stanton to fly out to right field to get the team out of the inning, with Ernie Clement clubbing a home run in the seventh which earned García his first win of the season.
His most impressive outing on the year arguably was his late-inning appearance in Houston last Tuesday.
Starter José Berríos pitched a great game against the Astros but found himself in trouble in the seventh inning, with runners on first and third with zero outs. In came García, who was looking to limit the damage and not allow the Astros to pad onto their 1-0 lead. He quickly got Chas McCormick and Jeremy Peña to fly out for the first two outs, with neither ball being deep enough to plate the runner from third.
To end the inning, the reliever was able to dispatch catcher Victor Caratini on six pitches, getting a third strike call on the outer plate clocking in at 97.7 MPH. This kept the Jays in the game and didn’t allow the inning to get away, which set the stage for Davis Schneider to club his two-run home run in the ninth, putting the Jays in the lead. García did need some help from his teammates in the eighth after giving up a double to Jose Altuve to lead off the inning but it was his actions the inning prior that kept the game from getting out of hand and helped avoid the sweep down in Houston.
Compared to last season, this side of García is a breath of fresh air even with the small sample size. The veteran reliever had some really tough moments through the first month in 2023, posting a 5.11 ERA in April with seven earned runs allowed off ten hits. He finished the year with a 4.09 ERA through a team-high 73 outings and turned things around towards the end of the season with a strong August showing, amassing a 3.39 FIP and a 10.8 K/9 while limiting the walks to a 2.0 BB/9 as well.
Considering the injuries and García’s role in the bullpen, it is great to see the reliever getting off to a hot start when the Blue Jays’ first eight games have been up-and-down both at the plate and on the mound.
Manager John Schneider will likely rely on the former Astros arm to help get them out of tough situations throughout the year and the hope will be this trend continues through the rest of the month and the season.

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