One of the biggest surprises in the first two weeks of the Los Angeles Dodgers season has been right-hander Yimi Garcia.
The reliever has allowed just one run and struck out 10 hitters in six innings of relief thus far. Garcia made the team after a spring in which he allowed just one run in over 11 innings. While some may be surprised, the reliever proved himself in limited opportunity last season. He was called up in September and allowed two runs in 10 innings of work.
For a Dodger bullpen without their closer, it would appear the toughest part is going in everyday without having an idea of what your role will be. Chris Hatcher, J.P. Howell and Joel Peralta have all been called upon to close out games, and every pitcher has come in at different points of the game.
According to Dodgers Nation reporter Vince Samperio, the 24-year-old Garcia does not let that affect him:
For me it’s not difficult. Once it gets past the fourth inning, I’m ready to go whenever and whatever inning.
After coming in during the seventh inning in his first three appearances, Garcia was called on in the 10th and ninth inning in the first two games of the series against the Seattle Mariners. The right-hander tossed a scoreless inning each time and ended up becoming the winning pitcher in both games, as the Dodgers won via walk-off both nights.
When asked about what he did different this offseason after his brief stint in 2014, Garcia said not much changed other than working on a certain pitch:
Nothing really, it’s been the same. Working just as hard. I worked with my brother this offseason and worked a little harder on my slider.
Garcia’s brother is a pitcher in the New York Yankees organization and according to J.P. Hoornstra of the LA Daily News, he taught Garcia a different way to throw the slider:
“His slider is slower with more movement,” Yimi Garcia said Tuesday. “He can tell me when I’m doing something not right.”
So Jairo showed his brother the 12-to-6 release and Yimi started tinkering with it.
The slider has been working, along with Garcia’s control and could be a key part to the Dodgers season in 2015.
Dodgers 2015 Spring Training – Brandon McCarthy