RHP Yimi García
Opening Day age: 30 | Bats: right | Throws: right | Listed at 6-2, 228 lbs.
Acquired by Marlins via free agency (December 20, 2019).
Despite a slew of minor injuries and even a Tommy John surgery, Yimi García enjoyed five successful seasons with the Dodgers. At least in two of them, he was an important piece of their bullpen, including 2019 before hitting the open market.
The Marlins signed García to a one-year deal as part of their new philosophy of going after affordable and low-profile but effective relief pitchers. In this ushering in of cost-effective options, García was their man (or at least one of them).
The Dominican-right hander was the Marlins’ best reliever in ‘20. Serving as the setup man to closer Brandon Kintzler across 15 innings, García surrendered only nine hits, one earned run, no homers—a refreshing change after averaging 2.3 HR/9 between 2018 and 2019—five bases on balls, and struck out 19 hitters. He won three games, didn’t lose, and recorded a 0.60 ERA plus a 0.93 WHIP. Opponents hit for a .164 batting average and a .452 OPS.
If you like those stats, his peripherals were also good as heck: .192 XBA, .307 XSLG, 2.68 XERA.
His 94.4 MPH fastball was a major weapon for him. He finished 32 at-bats with his heater and allowed only four hits (two singles, two doubles), piled up 15 strikeouts, and recorded an opponent batting average of .125 and slugging percentage of .188.
Last season was so good for García that the team didn’t hesitate to bring him back for the upcoming season, again on a team-friendly contract ($1.9MM) to avoid arbitration.
2021 ZiPS projection: 4.11 ERA, 4.32 FIP, 1.22 WHIP, 0.2 fWAR
2021 PECOTA projection (50th percentile): 3.21 ERA, 4.06 FIP, 1.10 WHIP, 0.7 WARP
Although it was said García and Anthony Bass would battle for the closer’s role in Spring Training, it seems Bass will end up as the Marlins’ ninth-inning guy with García returning to his setup duties. After the incredible job he did last year, Mattingly may want to leave things as they are instead of elevating him to a role he’s never taken before. Let us not forget that Mattingly managed García in Los Angeles in 2014-15 (his first two seasons at the major league level).
Those 2021 projections for García seem conservative. Aside from his big-time improvement at avoiding long balls last year, the veteran righty struck out people at the highest rate of his career (11.4 K/9)
On the other hand, he’ll need to cut down walks to be even more effective. After all, he raised his BB/9 for the fourth year in a row: 1.1 in 2016 —> 1.6 in 2018 —> 2.0 in 2019 —> 3.0 in 2020.
García has all the weapons and the experience to shine again. The eighth inning has historically been his ultimate comfort zone—career 1.84 ERA and .204 opponent batting average in 53 2⁄3 frames.
Even though it’s unlikely that someone can maintain García’s 2020 numbers in the long run of a 162-game regular season, the Dominican hurler is set to continue being a force in Marlins’ bullpen.