Washington Nationals: Christian Garcia Could Be Bullpen Wild Card

By Timothy Holland
Anthony Gruppuso- US PRESSWIRE

Washington Nationals reliever Christian Garcia could be a wild card in the 2012 MLB playoffs. He may be the one unknown on the Nationals staff that gives them an advantage.

Garcia was signed by Washington in 2011 after being released by the New York Yankees in 2010. The former third round draft pick spent six full seasons in the Yankees organization. He never made it past Double A.

Garcia was released by the Yankees, because he could not stay healthy. In 2010 he had his second Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. The first was in 2006. Though he was a top prospect in New York’s minor league system Garcia only pitched one full season. Considered damaged goods at 26, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo took a chance on him.

After signing with the Nationals he began 2011 with the Class A Auburn Doubledays. Garcia finished the campaign in Triple A with the Syracuse Chiefs. He began 2012 with the Double A Harrisburg Senators, returned to Syracuse then was promoted to Washington when rosters expanded in September. After eight years in pro ball Garcia made his major league debut on September 4 against the Chicago Cubs. He was able to get Cubs catcher Welington Castillo on a popup.

Garcia appeared in 13 games for the Nationals in September with no decisions or saves. He pitched 12 2/3 innings giving up three runs on eight hits and walking two. All of the runs were earned which made his ERA 2.13. Garcia struck out 15 of the 48 batters he faced. He gave up two home runs.

Garcia faced both the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals in September. He threw a scoreless 2/3 against the Braves in a 5-4 Washington loss on September 15. Against St. Louis, Garcia threw three scoreless innings in two appearances on September 28 and 30. The Cardinals got one hit off of him and he struck out two. Garcia did not face the Nationals other potential playoff opponents the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants.

When healthy the 6′ 5″ right hander posses a good fastball and curve. Guzman is capable of throwing strikes. He has walked two out of 48 batters and hit two others. Washington has brought him along slowly with the hope that he will be at full strength going into the post season.

It is true that the Nationals bullpen is set, but the unit has been shaky at times. The team is loaded with enough good arms that Garcia is not slated to see any action as a closer or setup man. His duty will be to hold the opposition when called upon.

However, every arm counts in the playoffs. A team can never have enough good pitching. The more depth Washington has the more manager Davey Johnson can match up in the late innings. With only the Braves and Cardinals having seen Garcia pitch this means that there is a very limited book on him. This works to Garcia and the Nationals advantage.

It may have taken a while before getting to the majors, but Garcia finds himself on a playoff roster in October.

In some way he could be a wild card for the Nationals.

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