My 180 on Jamie Garcia

I wasn’t high on Jamie Garcia to this offseason. While he was actually a 2010 preseason sleeper for me, his league average K/BB rate gave me doubts as to his ability to stay as affective going into this season. On top of the peripheral numbers, there was the fact that Garcia threw 126.1 more innings that he did in 2009, when he was coming back from elbow surgery. However, Garcia has completely won me over and there are three particular factors that have made me a believer.

The home run factor

A pitcher can have the best K/BB rate in the world, but if he gives up the gopher-ball too frequently, success can be hard to come by (see: Nolasco, Ricky last season and the younger Vazquez, Javier). Garcia has continued to demonstrate his ability to keep the ball in the yard. He only allowed nine home runs last season and has only allowed two home runs so far in 2011. Part of his ability to limit home runs comes from…

The ground ball rate

Garcia generated a 56 percent ground ball rate last season and has generated a 55 percent ground ball rate so far this season. Keeping the ball on the ground keeps the ball in the ballpark and limits extra base hits in general.

The chase and whiff rates

The movement on Garcia’s pitches not only keep the ball on the ground most of the time, but it causes opposing hitters to chase pitches outside the strike-zone frequently. When hitters do chase pitches outside the strike-zone, they are only making contact 48 percent of the time this season. All-in-all, Garcia gets hitters to swing and miss much more frequently than a league average pitcher, which makes his current 8.25 K/9 look very legit.

What I’ve seen from Garcia last season and this season, both visually and statistically, lead me to believe he can be a top 20 fantasy starter for years to come.