Phillies 2017 season grades: Relief pitcher Luis Garcia

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 20: Luis Garcia #57 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch in the top of the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park on September 20, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Dodgers 7-5. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 20: Luis Garcia #57 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch in the top of the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park on September 20, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Dodgers 7-5. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Luis Garcia went from nothing more than Triple-A depth to one of the Phillies better relievers in 2017, cementing a role in the 2018 bullpen.

Heading into this season, the only reliever with any major-league experience in Triple-A on the Phillies 40-man roster was Luis Garcia. Through his first four major-league seasons, he had an unimpressive 4.24 ERA and 1.688 WHIP in 126 outings. Certainly not the most exciting player to have as an extra arm on the roster.

When Garcia was inevitably called up to the majors early on in the year once Philadelphia’s bullpen started showing some major holes, the fanbase let out a collective groan. For the most part, Garcia had become synonymous with the grueling seasons the Phils have had since their run of division championships ended.

Instead, Garcia proved to be a worthy addition to the bullpen. He slowly but surely started to see more consistent usage, appearing in 66 games by the end of the year. In that span, he had a 2.65 ERA, 3.12 fielding-independent pitching, and 1.22 WHIP.

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While Garcia’s strikeouts per nine innings dropped this year, his actual strikeout rate (percentage of batters faced that Garcia struck out) rose while his walk rate dropped.

According to Baseball Reference wins above replacement (rWAR), Garcia was the fourth-most valuable pitcher on the team this year behind Aaron Nola, Pat Neshek, and Hector Neris. Garcia easily doubled his WAR total from any season of his prior, which could be a good sign moving forward.

One key change made by Garcia this year was adding a changeup to his arsenal. While it wasn’t an effective pitch (-1.2 Pitch Info value) it added another element arsenal, which was just enough to throw off hitters at times.

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Garcia lowered his walk rate by throwing more pitches in the strike zone (surprising right?). He threw 49.2 percent of his pitches in the strike zone, significantly more than any other season in his career.

Garcia also gave up far fewer home runs this year. In 2015, Garcia gave up home runs on 13.3 percent of fly balls. Meanwhile, he gave up home runs on just 5.7 percent of fly balls this year. However, he gave up more fly balls as a whole, so if his home run rate was where it was in 2015, he would’ve had a much higher ERA.

If Garcia is able to keep his home run rate low moving forward, he should be okay, but that is something to follow moving forward.

B+. . RP. Philadelphia Phillies. LUIS GARCIA

As a whole, Garcia was one of Philadelphia’s best relievers for the year. It was hard to find any real flaws in his game. For that reason, he gets a B+ from me for his 2017 season.

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Garcia easily had the best season of his career in 2017, which is a plus for him considering he is now arbitration-eligible. That should ensure the Phillies bring him back for next season, and he could continue to build on his success from this year.

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