In 2015 and the start of 2016, Yimi Garcia was an essential part of the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen, looking to be a fixture for the team in many years to come.
Unfortunately, early into the 2016 season, he went down with an elbow injury and was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery that kept him out the rest of that year and all of 2017.
Garcia reported to Spring Training in 2018 looking to prove he was healthy and ready to be back pitching in the Majors. But he wasn’t quite able to seize that opportunity due to not being 100 percent healthy yet.
Another year since the operation has now gone by, and Garcia looks like a completely different pitcher thus far in Spring Training. After tossing a perfect inning of relief in Saturday’s loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Garcia earned some high praise from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, via Rowan Kavner of Dodger Insider:
“With last year being abbreviated, he’s on a mission,” Roberts said. “You just see it every time he takes the ball. The ball’s coming out, his command is really good and he’s sequencing the right way. He’s using his slider when he needs to. He’s pitching down, but then he goes up when he needs to, too. His sequencing is really good.”
Garcia has now pitched in three games so far this spring, retiring all nine hitters he has faced, with six of them coming via strikeout.
The 28-year-old appeared in 25 games for the Dodgers in 2018, pitching to a 5.64 ERA, 6.34 FIP and 1.48 WHIP while striking out 19 and walking four in 22.1 innings, which obviously left a sour taste in his mouth.
If Garcia continues to show he can return to his 2015-16 form, the Dodgers bullpen could shape up to be one of the best in baseball with Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Pedro Baez, Tony Cingrani and Scott Alexander among those joining him.