Weekly Mailbag: Re-visiting Deivi Garcia, LUUUUKE, and the Schedule!

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In this week’s mailbag, we re-visit Deivi Garcia, discuss Luke Voit’s All-Star game chances, and the Yankees’ schedule. Let’s get at it:

Brian asks: The Yankee rotation has not been very good lately, and Deivi Garcia continues to impress in the minors. What could we expect Garcia to produce at the big league level right now? Can he help the Yankees now?

I answered a similar question about Deivi Garcia a few weeks ago in the mailbag, but I think that this topic is worth revisiting given the difference a few weeks can make. There is no getting around it: the rotation has really struggled in the last couple of weeks. Happ had a decent start against Toronto last week, but beyond that, the best start since the Boston series was Tanaka’s outing against the Mets a couple of days ago, and he gave up 4 earned runs. The Yankees have utilized the depth that they had on the 40-man roster coming into the season to solidify the rotation thus far, but that strategy is beginning to crack (man, if only there was a 1-year upgrade available for…OK, fine, I’ll mostly stop complaining about the Yankees being cheap with Keuchel). Truth be told, Keuchel really was a good option on a 1-year deal, but the Yankees decided to put dollars ahead of winning (again), so we have to make due with what we have unless a desirable starter becomes available on the trade market.

Garcia may be wowing observers with his 3-plus pitches and high strikeout totals, but his high walk rate at AA (4.8 BB/9) is a serious red flag with regards to moving Garcia up any further right now. Remember: Garcia is barely 20 years old! He has the type of stuff that could allow Garcia to be a high-end starter in the big leagues, assuming health, durability, and development. Let’s focus on the development piece for a second. At 20 years old, Garcia is only just facing advanced hitters for the first time, and he has only done it for 36 innings thus far. He needs to learn more about pitch sequencing, and strategy adjustment as hitters see him more than once. Garcia also is working to control his pitches better. He reportedly has some feel to pitch, but if control is an issue at AA, the control and command needed to succeed at the big league level certainly are not there yet. The possibility exists that Garcia could make some developmental leaps mid-season that make him an option in the big league rotation, but I’d prefer to allow a prospect of his caliber prove that he’s ready developmentally rather than rush him to the Majors due to need.

What could we expect from Garcia at the big league level? I think that he would be overwhelmed right now in the rotation. Garcia would not thrive in the Majors with the lack of control and command he has shown thus far this year. I think that Garcia would struggle to turn a lineup over more than once, and even if he did, it would be as a result of pure stuff, not pitchability. As a reliever, it is possible that he would be one of the top-6 relievers on the staff if he were put in situations where he could just let it fly for 25 pitches, but that would be a detriment to his development at this state. Now, using him in September once Garcia is close to his innings/pitch limits? I am totally OK with that. Let him get some exposure to the big leagues as a reward, and for the developmental value a short stint in the big leagues can have. It would be unfair to Garcia to ask him to give the rotation a shot in the arm at this stage of his development.

Greg asks: Is Luke Voit an All-Star?

The bar at first base is definitely lower than it was in years’ past. That’s not to say that Voit has been bad, but I do think that he has a better shot than he ever would have in the past. Check out the AL 1B leaderboard according to Fangraphs:

2019 AL 1B Leaderboard, Courtesy of Fangraphs (click to enlarge)

I sorted the list by wRC+, which ironically also sorted the list by fWAR. This interesting statistical quirk is indicative of how bad the defensive metrics look for American League first baseman this year. No one in the AL can play defense at 1B, so value is entirely derived from the ability to hit. Luckily, Voit stacks up pretty well in that regard. Right now, Fangraphs evaluates Voit’s offensive contribution and total value a touch lower than the top tier of Santana, Encarnacion, and Mancini. Mancini is a shoe-in, because I’m not sure who else you would want to put on an All-Star team from Baltimore. If we are being really generous, that leaves 2 more slots for first basemen on the roster. Encarnacion and Santana are more established players, and will likely get more love from managers and players once we get past the starters, so Voit probably needs a hot couple of weeks here to make the roster.

I think that Voit could do it, and I also would love to see him in the Home Run Derby. I know a lot of people are against their players competing in the event, but Voit wants to do it, and can you just picture the scene? The Luke chants would be a defining memory from the festivities. It would be so much fun. I’m a pretty hardened baseball fan. I’m pretty cold and calculating in evaluating player statistics and on-field mechanics, but I admit it: I love the Home Run Derby. Just give me all the dingers, and watching Voit do it while the entire stadium yells LUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUKE? Sign me up now.

Mike asks: When we look back at the 2019, what part of the regular season schedule will we say defined the team?

This is a fun one. It’s going to be tough to tell the story about the 2019 Yankees without talking about performance of the replacements in April and May. The Yankees are nowhere this year without the unexpectedly great performance by players who outstripped even their loftiest projections. It’s been a ton of fun.

However, I’m going to answer to the contrary. I think the defining moment of the 2019 season is from right now to the All-Star break. The Yankees are healthier than they were, and they are coming into one of the toughest parts of their schedule. Following this series against the White Sox (not an easy match-up for a rebuilding team either), the Yankees have 3 games against the Rays, 4 games against the Astros, 3 against Toronto, 2 against Boston, 2 against the Mets, and 4 more against the Rays. That is a formidable schedule that could very well define the top of the AL East and Wild Card favorites in the American League.

The story of the Yankees’ finish will be written by how they perform over the next 3 weeks.

That’s all for this week! Thanks for the great questions, and don’t be shy - if you haven’t written in a question to the mailbag before, don’t be afraid to try it (email SSTNreadermail@gmail.com). Have a great weekend, and see you next week!