The Miami Marlins have yet to clearly address their need at the back-end of the bullpen this off-season. Could Jarlin Garcia be the closer in 2020?
Last season, the Marlins‘ bullpen was one of the worst in the majors. Miami’s relievers posted a combined 4.97 ERA, which was fifth-worst in the league. They also sported the fifth-worst save percentage (55.1 percent) and the fifth-worst strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.11).
Few assumed Sergio Romo would be the answer when he signed last year, but after the veteran was traded, the closer spot was filled by a rotating cast of characters. No one on the current 40-man roster had more than eight saves and holds combined in 2019.
Jarlin Garcia was a middle reliever role for the Marlins last season. The lefty tossed 50.2 innings and actually led the team in ERA (3.02) and WHIP (1.11). He registered 39 strikeouts, 16 walks and six holds. Garcia surrendered only four homers in 2019 after giving up 16 in 2018. He also led the bullpen with 1.3 brWAR, ranking seventh on the club overall.
Garcia set a franchise record in 2019 with the longest consecutive scoreless innings streak for a left-handed reliever. Garcia went 21 straight innings without giving up a run, besting the mark previously held by Felix Heredia (16 IP in 1997). According to MLB.com, the overall consecutive scoreless inning mark for a reliever still belongs to Luis Aquino, who tossed 26.1 straight scoreless innings in 1994.
Jarlin Garcia As Marlins Closer
For Garcia to take over as closer in 2020, he would need to improve significantly on his strikeout rate. Garcia k’d only 18.9 percent of batters faced in 2019. His fastball, which averages 93-94 MPH, isn’t overpowering, but he does feature an above-average changeup.
Dubbed a lefty-specialist by some, Garcia actually had more success against right-handed batters last season. Righties hit a .194 average against him, whereas lefties notched a .247 average.
Garcia’s dominant scoreless stretch over the summer might afford him a look as closer, but his stuff will need to improve.
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The Marlins have turned over the bullpen significantly this offseason. Gone are Wei-Yen Chen, Tayron Guerrero, Tyler Kinley, Kyle Keller and Austin Brice. Miami signed Yimi Garcia, selected Sterling Sharp in the Rule-5 draft, and brought in Pat Venditte on a minor-league deal. None of these pitchers really profiles as a closer, though.
Whatever Miami ends up doing, we’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, keep checking back here at Marlin Maniac for all your Marlins news.