The Dodgers seem to have a knack for finding effective, under-the-radar relievers. Last year it was Dylan Floro, the year before it was Brandon Morrow, and in 2016 it was a workhorse in Joe Blanton. This year the Dodgers diamond in the rough reliever very well may be Yimi Garcia.
Garcia signed as an amateur free agent in 2009 out of the Dominican Republic and climbed through the system relatively quickly, making his major league debut on September 1, 2014 against the Washington Nationals. He threw two full innings, giving up a hit to Bryce Harper and recording his first strikeout against Anthony Rendon.
Garcia showed that he had decent control in his first year as a Dodger, walking less than a batter per nine. He appeared in eight games and allowed two runs over 10 innings. His early claim to fame was having the highest spin rate of all the pitchers on the Los Angeles staff.
The following year, Yimi had 59 appearances which included one start, ending with a record of 3-5 and an ERA of 3.34. In 2016, he was shut down with right bicep soreness and ended up being out for the season after another setback on July 29. In September, Garcia had arthroscopic surgery on his knee and in October underwent UCL surgery. Despite missing all of 2017, the Dodgers signed Yimi to a one-year $630,000 contract, avoiding arbitration.
In 2018, Garcia had it pretty rough going 0-2 with a 5.64 ERA, seemingly having lost his pinpoint control. One bright spot in a dark year for Yimi was being a part of a combined no hitter in Mexico, pitching the 8th inning of that game.
2019 was definitely rough at the beginning with an ERA above 10. After a rocky start, Yimi seems to be getting settled, finding the command that he seemed to have lost early. Aside from a couple of rough outings recently, Yimi has been throwing the ball well over the past 15 games he has pitched, allowing four runs over 16 innings, striking out 13 and walking only four with a 2.25 ERA during that time, bringing his overall ERA down to a much more respectable 4.76.
If Garcia can maintain his control and keep his slider working as they have been, he has a good shot at being this year’s version of the Dodgers’ Diamond in the Rough.