Note of the night/stat of the day, May 17
Note of the night: I wrote some about this in my game story last week, but one of the most noticeable changes in Jaime Garcia this year has been how he has handled tough innings.
Last year, both according to the stats and according to the eye test, Garcia didn’t always react well when an inning started to get dicey. He was somewhat vulnerable to the big inning. He was typically either dominant or he labored.
This year he looks different, and the numbers are different too. For anecdotal evidence, look at the eighth inning on Tuesday. The error by Tyler Greene could have sunk Garcia. Instead, he collected himself and moved on. Michael Martinez swung aggressively on the first pitch and hit a decent pitch, but from there Garcia got the job done. A sacrifice fly tied the game, and he got Ryan Howard. It’s easy to envision that inning going a lot differently one year ago.
The numbers bear it out to some degree, as well. Last year, Garcia had an enormous split between when the bases were empty and when runners were on base. He allowed an opponent OPS of 586 with the bases empty, 711 with runners on and 761 with men in scoring position. He averaged a walk every 15 plate appearances with the bases empty, and one every 7.6 with runners on base.
This year, he’s allowing a 543 OPS with the bases empty, 574 with men on and 498 with RISP (entering Tuesday’s game). He’s actually issuing fewer walks with men on base (one per 20 plate appearances) than with no one on (one per 15.75 plate appearances).
Throughout last year, I remained somewhat skeptical about Garcia because although he could be brilliant, he could also have those agonizing, laborious starts where he allowed four runs and needed 110 pitches to get through 5 1/3 innings. It really seems that this year he’s much better equipped to turn those games into better showings. If he can continue doing that, he could have a really outstanding year.
Stat of the day: Ryan Theriot has three straight two-hit games and has reached base by hit or walk nine times in five games. His on-base percentage has climbed from .328 to .358 in that span.