BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 04: Deivi García #83 of the New York Yankees pitches in the second inning during game two of a doubleheader baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 4, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland.
(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

The New York Yankees have lots of pitching decisions to make. The immediate impact of Deivi Garcia makes them easier.

Josh Benjamin

In case anyone missed it, Deivi Garcia is doing some great things for the New York Yankees. Since debuting last month, the diminutive right-hander has posted a 3.06 ERA in just three starts.

Naturally, both Garcia’s teammates and Yankees fans across the board are overflowing with excitement. It also helps it was a quality start from Garcia that kicked off New York’s current five-game winning streak. With veteran lefty James Paxton nursing an injured elbow, it seems the 21-year-old will be in the starting rotation for the foreseeable future.

And though Deivi Garcia’s emergence will help keep the Yankees’ rotation afloat come the playoffs, this is only half the story. The Yankees have big holes to fill in the rotation next year, and Deivi Garcia makes that 10 times easier.

Combined with what he’s doing on the field right now, the future for the New York Yankees is incredibly bright.

Fast-tracked debut

Adding to Deivi Garcia’s mystique is even in a pandemic-shortened season, no one expected him to debut in 2020. The Yankees made him part of their player pool for this year, but even then he wasn’t expected to have the role he does now.

The reasons why are simple. He only turned 21 back in May, and the 2019 season marked the first time he pitched above Double-A ball. Moreover, Garcia posted a 4.28 ERA across High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A last year. His ERA at Triple-A alone was 5.40.

Be it fatigue or inexperience, Garcia still looked raw despite 165 strikeouts in just 111.1 innings. Cut to posting a 7.00 ERA in spring training and looking wild in a pickup game during summer camp, and it seemed more obvious. Deivi Garcia would not appear in a game for the New York Yankees in 2020.

Cue the injury bug, not to mention a ringing endorsement from catcher Erik Kratz, and here Garcia is today. Not only has he lived up to the hype, but he looks like a completely new pitcher. He issued 3.8 BB/9 in the minors last year, but has allowed just two in 17.2 innings of MLB work in 2020. Garcia also allows 18.4% soft contact and has a swinging strike rate of 12.1%, per Fangraphs.

To break it down into layman’s terms, the kid can pitch.

Looking forward

And people may not realize it now, but Deivi Garcia’s continued success would make things much easier for the Yankees in the future. Millions will melt off the payroll next offseason, particularly in the pitching department.

As we’re aware, New York is working J.A. Happ’s role in the rotation so as to avoid his $17 million vesting option for next year kicking in. Though Happ has looked strong of late, he is almost 38 and New York’s rotation needs to get younger. This also means Paxton, who turns 32 in November and has a history of injuries, is also likely gone.

Masahiro Tanaka could be an option, but he’s a free agent this offseason. Even if the Yankees keep him, they might have to overpay. Assuming they do, that leaves four spots that are spoken for in the Yankees rotation: Gerrit Cole, Tanaka, Jordan Montgomery, and Luis Severino.

But wait, there’s still a catch. Severino had Tommy John surgery back in March and probably won’t be back until June or July. This now leaves two openings in the rotation. Garcia can fill one of them easily, and the other could go to literally anyone. Maybe his fellow prospects Clarke Schmidt and/or Michael King? Perhaps if they aren’t ready, Jonathan Loaisiga can hold up the back end.

Either way, the Yankees have more depth than Tamatoa’s treasure den. Thanks to Deivi Garcia, they now know the benefits of actually using it.

Final thoughts

The point is that even if Tanaka walks in free agency, Deivi Garcia’s presence on the pitching staff keeps the future bright. The Yankees don’t need to buy an arm on the free-agent market. Nor does general manager Brian Cashman need to trade Garcia, Schmidt, or other young pitching prospects for an established arm.

The reason for this is because, in just three MLB starts, Deivi Garcia has already established himself. Part Pedro Martinez, part pure wunderkind, he has shown just how valuable he is to this team already. His fastball and changeup give hitters fits. His curveball sometimes borders on untouchable. He is only going to get better with age.

Look at it this way. If Garcia debuted this year and was still raw, the Yankees may have had reason to worry. Forget the current season. Filling all of the holes in next year’s rotation would have been that much harder. Instead, Garcia can now be trusted as a reliable pitcher who can be penciled in for a weekly start, leaving Cashman to worry about filling one to two spots rather than two to three.

We all see it, Yankees fans. As far as the team is concerned, the future is now and Deivi Garcia is in the driver’s seat. With his foot on the gas, there’s no telling how far he and the Yankees can go.

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