What Went Wrong: Freddy Garcia


(REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)

The Yankees kicked off their offseason last winter by re-sign CC Sabathia to huge five-year, $122.5M contract extension, but the first true free agent they signed was one of their own. They brought Freddy Garcia back with a one-year pact in early-December, bumping his salary up to a guaranteed $4M. He was rock solid last summer (3.62 ERA and 4.12 FIP) and bringing him back for pitching depth seemed like a fine move.

The Michael Pineda trade and Hiroki Kuroda signing in mid-January appeared to relegate Garcia to bullpen duty — which he was totally cool with — but Pineda’s shoulder injury cleared a rotation spot and Freddy broke camp as the fifth starter for the second straight year. The results were immediate and disastrous. Garcia allowed four runs in 4.2 innings in his first start of the season, five runs in 5.2 innings in his second start, then five and six runs in his third and fourth starts, respectively, while recording a combined ten outs. After four April starts, he owned a 12.51 ERA (5.66 FIP).

The Yankees only had one alternative at the time, so they stuck Freddy in the bullpen and let David Phelps make some spot starts while waiting for Andy Pettitte to rejoin the rotation. They claimed that Garcia lacked arm strength, and that his 84-85 mph fastball wasn’t as effective as his 87-88 mph fastball, which was certainly true but still kind of hilarious sounding. Joe Girardi used the veteran right-hander very sparingly in mop-up relief, calling on him just ten times in the team’s next 57 games.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)

To his credit, Garcia didn’t make a stink about the demotion and actually pitched well when called upon — 1.56 ERA and 2.98 FIP in 17.1 innings. When Sabathia and Pettitte went down with injuries just prior to the All-Star break, the Yankees put Freddy back in the rotation and he was surprisingly solid. He allowed three total runs in a dozen innings in his first two starts despite being on a pitch count, and only once in his first nine starts back did he allow more than three earned runs. He never failed to complete at least five innings of work in all nine starts either.

The good times came to an end after that. Sweaty Freddy gave up 12 runs in 14.1 innings across his next three starts, only once getting out of the fifth. His leasd was short because of the magnitude of the games being played, which is why he was yanked after allowing three runs in just 3.1 innings against the Orioles on September 9th. That, ultimately, was Garcia’s final start of the season. Ivan Nova returned from his DL stint and took Freddy’s rotation spot.

Freddy allowed three runs in three innings of relief against the Athletics on September 22nd, paving the way for the four-run comeback in the 13th inning. He threw a pair of perfect innings to close out two blowouts against the Red Sox in the final series of the year — including striking out the side in order in the final inning of the season in Game 162 — and that was it. The Yankees left Garcia off their ALDS and ALCS rosters and he wasn’t even first in line to be activated in case of injury. He probably wasn’t even second either.

All told, the 36-year-old Garcia pitched to an ugly 5.20 ERA (4.68 FIP) in 107.1 innings spread across 17 starts and 13 relief appearances this year. His strikeout (19.3 K% and 7.46 K/9) and walk (7.6 BB% and 2.93 BB/9) rates were solid, but he allowed 18 homers (1.51 HR/9) and batters tagged him for a .270/.328/.455 batting line. The Yankees won the AL East despite Freddy and he certainly didn’t contribute to their ALCS exit, but The Chief pitched poorly for most of the year and didn’t provide the kind of pitching depth the team expected.

Categories : Players
  • JobaWockeeZ

    Well it’s hard to catch lightning in a bottle for two years. 2011 was a clear aberration but at least for the right team.

    • rondd5

      ……..the yanks are in big trouble if garcia has to pitch significant innings…

      • JobaWockeeZ

        Good thing he won’t in 2013.

        •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

          Maybe he will, just not for NYY.

  • 0-fur is murder

    At least the Yankees has Garcia and didn’t have to go get Sidney Ponson so there’s that…

  • Get Phelps Up

    I didn’t think he would be as good as he was in 2011, but I really didn’t see him being this bad. Thanks for 2011 and your run from July to mid August, Freddy.

  • Robinson Tilapia (We go hard)

    I don’t think 2011 was the complete aberration people are making it out to be, but Freddy’s not the pitcher he was and, in a season where he couldn’t reach for the finesse he needed to get his stuff over, no matter how smart a pitcher he is, he got hurt.

  • JohnnyBGoode

    Oh Freddy Garcia, you will forever be the most random Yankee jersey I ever owned.

    •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      A former David Cone jersey?

  • Rey22

    I’d call this more a What Went As Expected. I’m not sure why the Yankees thought they’d get lucky with him 2 years in a row. Doubt anyone was truly surprised by how he pitched this year. With his stuff, unless he’s perfect, he’s screwed, and it’s hard to be perfect.

    • Ted Nelson

      Garcia also pitched in 2010 and the last 1/4 of 2009. His ERAs have been 4.3, 4.6, 3.6, and 5.2. FIP and xFIP are less volatile.

      In terms of ERA, this was clearly worse than expected. 2011 was also clearly better than expected. Over the two seasons it was about what was expected.

  • rondd5

    …with garcia, once he gave up a couple of hits…that was it….he couldn’t get anybody out…and I really worried about the infielders….there were some serious rockets launched…

  • 0-fur is murder

  • Eddard

    It can’t have went wrong if noone thought it would go right. I’m most looking forward to What Went Right: Eduardo Nunez and What Saved the Season: Ichiro Suzuki.

    •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      Not sure if the Nunez/Ichiro sentence is sarcasm or legit.

    • Ted Nelson

      The only way you can really argue a season where you’re out more than half the time went right is if you think the team is better off without the player. If you like Nunez, and you seem to… It’s hard to argue a season lost to injury (not to mention where he got demoted for defensive lapses and didn’t hit very well overall) went right.

      • WhittakerWalt

        Eddard is short for Eduardo.

    • WhittakerWalt

      Is Eduardo Nunez your cousin or something? He’s a borderline major leaguer at this point. A backup infielder who can’t field. A DH who doesn’t hit that much. Yippee, he can run. That’s not enough.

  • Barbara Booey

    Here we go with Axisa’s stupid / useless filler posts. I predicted this post a while back – along with a “What Went Right: David Phelps” type post.

    Can we cut the drivel here and get to some interesting speculation on trade or free agent possibilities? We are all painfully aware of what happened this past season. We don’t need a three or four week rewind of the season to play out here.

    Folks, let’s not forget who butters RAB’s bread…the Yankee front-office. While it may seem odd, given RAB undercuts some of the club’s moves, remember that it is a time-honored tradition by front offices to cheapen some player’s worth and inflate others on the sly. RAB is a pawn of YES, it’s that simple.

    • jjyank


    • bpdelia

      wow. thats good stuff right there lok. CONSPIRACY!!!!

    • Robinson Tilapia (We go hard)

      Mike, I think this person has a crush on you.

    • WhittakerWalt

      U MAD?