The Los Angeles Dodgers are currently on a seven-game winning streak that has been aided by a bullpen that has allowed just one run in that time.
One of the standouts from the bullpen is right-hander Yimi Garcia, who has allowed just one run in six appearances. Garcia has struck out 12 batters in seven innings and even earned two wins during the streak. While many could have seen this success after this spring, where the right-hander allowed just one run in 11.1 innings, but maybe could not predict the success from his time in the Minor Leagues.
According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, the ascendence of Garcia began last summer in the Minors:
At the end of June, his velocity jumped, and the 94-95 [mph] started to come out,” said Rick Knapp, the Minor League pitching coordinator. “The slider that was always a sore spot is now a weapon. He used the Minor Leagues for exactly what they’re for. It’s a great thing for a coordinator to see. He makes me proud.”
Garcia wasn’t much of a factor last spring due to a knee injury that sidelined him. Even before the knee, the 24-year-old was known more for command than velocity:
His velocity now is the fastest I’ve ever seen him throw,” said former general manager Ned Colletti. “I guess he didn’t burst on the scene because of velocity. He always had plus-command and was a strike thrower.”
His knee got better and he pitched well enough to earn a promotion during September call-ups. In eight appearances (10 innings), Garcia allowed just two earned runs and struck out nine. He came into the spring as a potential reliever in the bullpen, but nowhere near a certainty.
With an improved slider (thanks to working with his younger brother Jairo), the new velocity and command, Garcia was impressive enough to make the Opening Day roster and is now one of the go-to guys early in the 2015 season.
Dodgers 2015 Spring Training – Justin Turner