Everyone knows that the Yankees need to acquire a starting pitcher. Guys like Madison Bumgarner, Marcus Stroman, Trevor Bauer and Zack Wheeler have all been linked to the Yanks, who may be another quality starting pitcher away from a championship. If you're a bettor, hammer the "over" on the Yankees acquiring one.
However, there's another way they can improve their pitching staff for the stretch run. Risky as it may be, the Yankees could try to catch lightning in a bottle by calling up 20-year-old phenom Deivi Garcia.
It sounds ridiculous, right? Throwing a 20-year-old rookie into the pressure of a pennant race in New York City? The kid isn't even old enough to drink the celebratory champagne that would be flowing in the clubhouse!
However, it's the right course of action for the Yankees. 2019 may be the zenith of the Yankees' championship window -- the team has arguably the top lineup and bullpen in baseball. If the Yankees have another sparkling rookie waiting in the wings, why not give him a shot?
Several people in and out of the Yankees organization believe Garcia can make the big leagues this year. His Double-A manager, Pat Osborn, said he would not be surprised "at all" if Garcia ended up in the Bronx this year, while ESPN minor league insider Keith Law said before the season, "To me … they're not going to hesitate to trust him with some kind of Major League job by the end of the year."
Garcia, who was just promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, was nothing short of spectacular this season at Double-A Trenton -- he had a 3.01 ERA and ridiculous 14.29 K/9. His walks are high, but he keeps the ball in the ballpark -- he's only allowed two home runs all season.
The big concern with Garcia has always been his size. At 5'9" and 163 pounds, he's undersized compared to most MLB starters. However, his stuff more than makes up for it. He sits around 93 mph on his fastball, but has exceptional late life on the pitch. His changeup is developing, and his curveball is an absolute hammer.
In 14 starts last year, RHP Deivi Garcia's 12.77 K/9.0IP was 2nd highest among Yankees minor leaguers (min. 50.0IP).- NYYPlayerDev (@NYYPlayerDev) February 12, 2019
Following the 2018 season, he was ranked by @BaseballAmerica as
the No. 6 prospect in the Yankees organization. pic.twitter.com/tbHNE1mXSo
Garcia also has big-game experience. In a June start that clinched the Thunder a postseason spot as first-half champions, he twirled six one-hit innings and struck out 15 batters. In his next start, he tossed five no-hit frames. After one more turn, his last appearance came in the All-Star Futures Game, where he started the game with a scoreless inning.
If all goes well at Scranton for the next month or so, why finish at Triple-A this season?
One reason the Yankees might hold him back could be his innings cap. Garcia has never thrown more than 74 innings in a professional season, and he's already at 68.2 innings with two more months left. The Yankees have been smart with managing his workload -- Garcia hasn't thrown more than six innings once this year and has only eclipsed 100 pitches twice.
If he keeps up at this pace, he'll throw about 60 more innings over the season and finish with about 130 innings by the minor league playoffs, which start in early September. That's almost double his previous high. The Yankees won't want him throwing much more than that.
With that in mind, a shift to the bullpen might be beneficial to keep Garcia's innings in check. His stuff would play up in the bullpen, and the reduced workload could let him pitch deeper into the season.
The Yankees' bullpen is top-heavy -- it's excellent past the seventh inning, but doesn't have a reliable middle relief bridge. When the top guys are overworked, Luis Cessa, Nestor Cortes and David Hale end up pitching far more than they should. The Yanks could definitely use one more reliever to make their super-bullpen even more unstoppable.
Given his innings concerns and the Yankees' need for pitching of any kind, it might make sense for Garcia to pitch out of the bullpen this season for the big club. It's been done before. Prized prospect starter Joba Chamberlain was excellent as an MLB reliever in 2007.
One thing we've learned from this week's MLB All-Star Game is that baseball is more of a youth-oriented sport than ever before -- 10 All-Stars were younger than 25 years old. In an age where rookie sensations are taking over, the Yankees may have the next big one on their hands.
It's up to them to decide when they want to unleash the beast.