After being called up to the Marlins early in the 2017 season, Jarlin Garcia was a pleasant surprise addition to the Marlins’ thin relief corps. Garcia was called up to get left-handed batters out and provide middle relief help to the beleaguered Marlins staff.
“We think [starting is] probably the best for his development. Last year was a little bit of a shortcut to the bullpen. Right now he’s a starter, we feel like he’ll be a starter this year. He’s got three pitches – he’s got starter’s stuff.”
Well, given the injuries to the Marlins staff, in particular Dan Straily starting the season on the disabled list, Garcia will make the club and join the starting staff.
So what does Garcia bring to a staff that FanGraphs ranks as the worst in baseball?
The 6-3 Dominican lefty made the leap from double-A Jacksonville to the Marlins and debuted on April 14th of last season by tossing a shutout inning against the Mets. After 12 outings he sported a 2.53 ERA over 10.2 innings, giving up only 5 hits while fanning 10. He held batters to a .141 average and an impressive BABIP of .160.
Unfortunately, from May 16th on Garcia was very erratic. Over his final 42.2 innings he struggled with a 5.27 ERA, and ended the year with a replacement level season (fWAR of 0.3).
Perhaps Garcia wore down as the season went along. He had a biceps strain that landed him on the DL in August and before being injured he had a 3.43 ERA and 0.99 WHIP.
OK, so the Marlins want Garcia to be a starter, but does he actually profile more as a starter or reliever? He was used mostly as a starter in the minors, which makes sense to me. His delivery features a 3⁄4 arm slot that doesn’t exactly scream “lefty specialist”. You can see what I mean in the video below:
In terms of stuff, he features a fastball that is regularly in the 94-95 range, with a change up and a slider to boot. His slider has been good, but not great and didn’t have a ton of late bite, while his change up shows a more swing and miss potential. Right-handers batted .265 while left-handers hit only .196.
With a little more life on his fastball and further depth to his slider, Garcia can develop into a solid 4th or 5th starter in the majors. He will get his chance to stick with the Marlins as a starter or middle reliever depending on his results early this season. It’s not a make or break situation for him, but it would be great to see him make the most of his opportunity.