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Garcia could move to rotation in 2018

By Joe Frisaro | | August 6th, 2017

ATLANTA — Armed with a 95-mph fastball and a sharp slider, Jarlin Garcia has emerged as one of the Marlins’ top relievers. The lefty is more than simply a specialist: He’s facing right-handers as well, and is throwing in high-leverage innings.

As impressive as Garcia has been in his rookie season, his role in the future may be as a starter. First and foremost, the 24-year-old is looking to complete this year in the bullpen, but if the organization is open to adding him to the rotation in 2018, he is agreeable to the idea.

“My main goal right now is to just help the team and do my best in whatever role they put me in,” Garcia said. “If it’s a starter or a reliever, I’m just focused on going out there and getting the job done. In the future, maybe I’d like to go back to being a starter, because that’s what I’ve enjoyed. But at the same time, I don’t want to lose my spot up here helping the team win. I’d rather help the team win than be a starter.”

A native of the Dominican Republic, Garcia has been in the Marlins’ system since 2011. During his Minor League tenure, he made 89 starts. In 2016, he appeared in 17 Minor League games, making 12 starts before moving to the bullpen.

After tossing a scoreless seventh in Sunday’s 4-1 win over the Braves at SunTrust Park, Garcia has a 3.35 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP in 48 big league outings. He has struck out 29 batters over 37 2/3 innings.
“I like him in the bullpen, myself right now,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “But a lot of teams in the past have brought guys up to be bullpen guys, to be comfortable, and then continue to start [them].”

In the offseason, president of baseball operations Michael Hill and the rest of the organization will eventually decide how to best maximize Garcia’s talents. He offers the versatility to handle either a reliever or starter role.

“I don’t know what the organization has planned as far as that,” Mattingly said. “I’m sure Michael is thinking about it, with where our starting rotation is right now. Going into the future, I think it’s something you’d at least think about.”

Out of the bullpen this year, Garcia has a three-pitch mix that would be essential to being a starter. The lefty has a fastball, slider and changeup. He has shown the ability to miss bats with all three pitches. Batters are hitting .253 off his fastball, .122 against his slider and .125 off the changeup, according to BaseballSavant.

Statcast™ has Garcia’s average four-seam fastball velocity at 94.33 mph.

“It’s been a great experience for me, going from being a starter to being a reliever because I have been able to work on improving the quality of my fastball and breaking pitches,” Garcia said. “That’s a big thing. Now, I’m able to locate them better and throw more strikes.”