Exit Interview: Jaime Garcia

For the fifth straight year, we’re taking some time in that time between the end of the season and the winter meetings to discuss each player that made an appearance on the St. Louis roster this season.  Whether they played almost every day or never actually got into a game, they get covered in this series.  All stats are exclusively their time in St. Louis.   Just think of this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a quick evaluation before heading home for the winter.

This year’s Exit Interview series is “being brought to you by” some of the various Cardinal podcasts that are out there for your listening pleasure.  Our focus this time is the Viva El Birdos podcast.  John and Heather break down all the recent happenings in Cardinal Nation with the skill and approach you’d probably expect if you are a VEB reader.  Find them on iTunes or check out the site!

Player: Jaime Garcia

Season stats: 10-13, 4.67 ERA, 32 games, 171.2 IP, 179 H, 57 BB, 150 K, 1.375 WHIP, 4.49 FIP, 0.8 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Hero 7, Goat 8

Overall grade: C-

Positives: Came out of the gate somewhat strong, limiting batters to a .193 mark in April….dominated the Brewers to a .191/.262/.319 line in four games, including a one-hit, 13 K complete game in his second start of the year….had a great start against the Braves where he threw eight scoreless innings and drove in the lone run of the game….allowed a .664 OPS in high leverage situation, his best mark in the different strata….had a 1.64 ERA in his wins….had his best ERA in May (3.18).

Negatives: Allowed four or more runs in 14 of his 30 starts….had an ERA of 5.54 after August 1….had a 4.98 ERA away from Busch….batters had an OPS of .883 against him in the second half….his ERA for September alone was 6.38….had a 7.05 ERA in his losses….batters had a 1.042 OPS when leading off an inning against him….batters hit .307 against him when nobody was out….allowed a .894 OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position….allowed a .333/.393/.574 line in his first 25 pitches of a game….had a 5.03 ERA against the Cincinnati Reds.

Overview: Last year, nobody expected Garcia’s first option to get picked up when the season started, but he pitched well enough during the year that it became more and more reasonable for that to happen.  Going into spring training this year, everyone knew that Garcia was going to have the 2017 option picked up, but as the year went along that became more and more doubtful.  So much so that right now the only real selling point is the cheapness of the deal and the need for pitching.  If that option was much closer to market value, dropping him would probably make a lot more sense.

The games that Garcia was on, you could see why people give him chance after chance.  While he may have dominated lesser teams in the Brewers and the Braves, 1) that’s more than some of his rotation mates did and 2) those games weren’t just wins, but performances that would have shut down most any time.  The problem was, there weren’t many of those.  He only had five starts that he allowed one run or fewer.  He can be as effective as anyone in the game, but he can’t figure out how to do it more regularly, which makes him the wildest of wild cards when he’s in the rotation.

Outlook: There are a lot of folks that think it’s time to part ways with Garcia.  There’s no denying the talent but there’s also no denying the frustration and there’s got to be some clearing of room in this crowded rotation next season.  It doesn’t seem to be just the fans that are thinking this either, as there are some indications the front office has tired of Garcia as well.

That said, the option is just for $12 million and it’s basically impossible to find a veteran starter for such a rate, inconsistent or not.  Look what the club gave Mike Leake in the last offseason and, statistically, there wasn’t a lot of gap between them.  It would seem that someone would want Garcia and even if you flipped him for a minor leaguer or two, that might be better than just tossing him away.   I don’t know that I believe Garcia will pitch for St. Louis again, but I don’t think they just let him walk either.

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