Really, the kid had been amazing. In truth, unsustainably amazing.
Yimi Garcia had been eye-opening, a young rookie reliever who was simply dominating. In his first 13 games, he had a 0.66 ERA, with 21 strikeouts to four walks, and had held opponents to a .087 batting average.
Only now, at the moment, he’s suddenly in trouble and probably a tad shaken, his confidence waning after two consecutive terrible appearances.
Thursday night, the Dodgers asked him to protect a 4-2 lead in the ninth and he gave up a three-run homer to Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez. In his previous outing Monday against the Marlins, he blew another save, giving up two runs on three hits and two walks.
It’s enough to make you concerned about the 24-year-old’s psyche.
“A little bit,” said Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly “He’s a young guy and had a lot of success, and now two times out he’s gotten hit.
“I don’t know if it would just be a young guy, but pretty much any guy. You take a blow. But these guys didn’t get here without having some lack of success and then digging in and continuing to work and getting better.”
Gonzalez is a left-handed batter and Mattingly had left-hander J.P. Howell warming up the bullpen, but elected to stay with Garcia. That’s more understandable when you realize left-handers were one for 15 against Garcia until the Gonzalez blast.
“We’ll make sure we talk with Yimi, trust in his ability, and make sure he understands how good he is and look at it realistically,” Mattingly said. “He’s in the big leagues, he’s throwing the ball really well. He’s had two outings that didn’t go his way. But let’s be realistic on why, make sure we know exactly why -- did we get the ball in the right spots, did we miss our locations, whatever it is.”
Garcia threw a 94 mph fastball that appeared headed in the direction catcher Yasmani Grandal had set up.
“I thought his stuff was good again,” Mattingly said. “That pitch that Cargo hit was in the wrong spot for us. I don’t think we’re trying to go there. If we throw the ball where we want, we feel like we get him there.”
Garcia and the rest of bullpen’s young Turks were not going to sustain their early excellence the entire season. But it will be interesting to see how Garcia handles his first bit of failure in the majors, and how the Dodgers use him next to rebuild his confidence.
Garcia did not pitch for a seven-day stretch, finally throwing Sunday, the last day of the Dodgers’ recent road trip -- which in itself seemed odd.
The bullpen will get closer Kenley Jansen back Friday or Saturday, but the Dodgers may suddenly be looking for an eighth-inning guy after Pedro Baez was placed on the disabled list Thursday and then Garcia suffered through his second consecutive poor outing.
“We’ve had a couple of days where we had some stuff going on, but it’s the same thing that will happen with any team,” Mattingly said. “It’s happened to us right now and you just keep going. We have a lot of confidence in our guys.”