Aug. 15 Pregame Notes: Steady Freddy
Freddy unbelievably steady
Andy Pettitte exited the game on June 27th leaving the Yankees with many question marks on how they would fill the massive void his injury vacated in the starting rotation. In that same game Freddy Garcia stepped in and gave the Yankees 2 1/3 innings of shutout ball in relief of the hobbled Pettitte, earning the victory in the Yankees 5-4 win over the Indians.
Garcia was the first choice to be the fill-in starter for Pettitte. However, the road to earning that right had been a long one for the starter turned reliever. He had found a new role in the bullpen after his first four starts of the season were a complete disaster, an April that fueled speculation at one point that Garcia might just be outright released. From April 10th to April 28th, Garcia logged only 13 2/3 innings in his four starts, allowing 20 runs – 19 of which were earned – and watching his ERA balloon to a bloated 12.51. It was almost like he was facing Ted Williams in every at-bat, as opponents were hitting a ridiculous .403 against him.
But despite all of the speculation surrounding the fate and demise of Freddy Garcia’s career in pinstripes, the Yankees stuck with him. They gave him a lifeline by putting him out into the bullpen, even as questions were asked like, “how would his stuff or lack of stuff translate to coming out of the ‘pen?”
Garcia answered all of the doubters by providing a change of pace to all of the hard throwing setup men the Yankees employed. From May 2nd to June 27th, Garcia came out of the bullpen 10 times with major success. He was 2-0 with miniscule 1.56 E.RA in 17 1/3 innings pitched, opponents hit just .190 against him over that span, and he just seemed like a different pitcher. The Yankees were rewarded for their patience in a pitcher that was such a success for them in 2011, and with new life and a new success came confidence in making Garcia the easy choice to replace Pettitte and hold down the fort until he came back.
“He had some nice outings out of the bullpen,” Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said of Garcia. “I think it helped him. He doesn’t say much, but I don’t think his arm was at full strength when we started the season although he went through the full spring. Sometimes with older guys, it’s just little things come up and they always figure they can pitch through it. I think the rest and to get him back going again certainly helped.”
Since taking Pettitte’s spot in the rotation, Garcia has continued to be “Steady Freddy.” He’s been a consistent rock, and in his eight starts, he hasn’t had an outing under five innings and hasn’t given up more than four runs in any game. He is 4-3 over this current span with a 3.83 ERA, and has struck out 35 against just 13 walks in 47 innings pitched.
Yes, Garcia has also lost some decisions due to a lack of run support, but even with that he’s been everything the Yankees could have asked for in a replacement for Pettitte and more.
“Andy (Pettitte) stepped in and was pitching really well for us, and Freddy has been really consistent for us and given us a chance to win every game,” Joe Girardi said. “That’s all you can really ask for from your starting pitchers. Filling rotation spots is not always easy, but Freddy’s done a pretty good job.”
Rothschild mentioned the fact that Garcia’s rough start may have had a lot to do with his arm not being at full strength, and for Garcia, an issue like that is completely detrimental being that he relies solely on mixing up pitches and changing speeds to fool hitters. Over this current stretch of starts, though, it looks as if his arm strength is where it needs to be to do just that.
“He’s done what he did last year a lot,” Rothschild said. “He’s going to pitch the way he pitches. He’s going to mix fastballs on different occasions and mix all of his breaking balls and manage a lineup the way he needs to. A lot of it’s just know how and competitive and that’s what he does well.”
Wednesday night was a huge test for Garcia as he will face one of the best lineups in all of baseball in the Texas Rangers. However, in the first two games of the series, Yankees pitching has kept the Rangers at bay, and come into Wednesday with 16 straight shutout innings. Garcia responded by working around two Josh Hamilton home runs by giving up four hits in 6.2 innings.
Melky Cabrera to serve 50-game suspension
Former Yankees outfielder and 2009 World Champion Melky Cabrera was having a career year with the San Francisco Giants in 2012. The seeds were sown in 2011 for the dream season that was coming when he hit .305 with the Kansas City Royals, but as of Wednesday morning, he led the Major Leagues with 159 hits and his .346 average was among the leaders in all of baseball as well.
The “Melk Man” was also named the All-Star game MVP in his first appearance in the Mid-Summer Classic last month, and with 11 home runs and 60 RBI to go along with his gaudy average and hit total, he was on his way to breaking the career highs of 18 homers and 87 RBI that he set last season.
But all of the accolades, awards and praise are going by the wayside, as Cabrera has tested positive for the use of testosterone.
The news of his 50-game suspension has sent shockwaves throughout baseball, especially in the clubhouse where he cut his teeth as a Major Leaguer.
“It’s disappointing,” Joe Girardi said of his former player. “Obviously Melky means a lot to all of us and was part of our championship. He provided some really good moments here, and it’s something that everyone has to deal with. Girardi also added of Cabrera, “Melky meant a lot to us and we know that he’s gonna miss 50 games. It’s his free agent year. It’s unfortunate.”
Robinson Cano is Melky Cabrera’s best friend; the two shared the beginning of their careers together here in New York, and seeing them reunite at the 2012 All-Star game together was like watching two friends not miss a beat.
Cano reacted to the news before Wednesday night’s game saying, “I don’t know any details about it. You’ve seen the news. I feel sad about him. He’s my friend and I’m just going to be there for him.” He also added that he was, “100 percent surprised,” and called it a “sad day.”
Cabrera himself did not deny the news of his alleged PED use, stating that, “My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used. I am deeply sorry for my mistake.”
This admission does go a long way with fans and baseball writers alike; however, the stigma will always surround a career that was and is currently on the rise.
Cabrera would be eligible to play in the 2012 postseason, but with 45 games left in the regular season for the San Francisco Giants, he will have to sit out at least until the National League Championship series.
Yankee fans will always have the fond memories of Cabrera’s youthful exuberance and penchant for hitting in clutch situations, but this news will certainly cloud the once pristine image of a player just making his mark as a superstar in the league. Only time will tell if he can recover from this unfortunate incident.
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