What a game last night was, that was quite the impressive performance by John Lackey. I wanted to take a look at how Jaime Garcia can have a similar performance tonight against this dangerous Cubs lineup.
I went back and looked for one of Jaime’s best starts this season against a quality opponent. It was an eight inning performance against the Kansas City Royals, in which the Royals only mustered four hits and zero runs in the eight inning affair, striking out six.
During this outing, Garcia had pitch values (via Fangraphs) of 5.85 runs saved on his four-seam fastball, 2.74 on his two-seam fastball, 7.08 on his cutter, 0.83 on his slider, 3.67 on his curve ball, and an amazing 8.37 on his changeup.
What worked the most for Garcia on this night was his ability to get a ground ball, Garcia was able to have induce an effective 68.2% ground balls that night. This all led to a .182 average on balls in play and an overall batting average of .143 for the Royals that night.
Garcia was effective because he worked his pitches away from the hitters and also mixed his pitches into the inside corner to keep hitters off balance. Take a look at the location and movement of Garcia to both left-handed and right-handed hitters in these two charts via Fangraphs.
As you can see, Garcia stayed away from both hitters for the most part and sprinkled his location all over the zone on all of his pitches. Most impressive is Garcia’s slider location to lefties and righties. There were only a couple instances in which Garcia left his slider in a location where the Royals could make solid contact.
This is how Garcia will be effective this evening. He has to work in and out of the zone and get the Cubs’ hitters off balance. He will have to come in to Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, and Dexter Fowler on the inside corner of the plate to set them up for his devastating changeup down and away and his sweeping slider. He will lure right handers like Kris Bryant and Addison Russell on the same fastball and get them to ground out via the two seamer, cutter, or changeup.
Call to the Pen
We will know early that Garcia is on if he is getting swings and misses on his changeup (best pitch). Joe Maddon mentioned last night after the game, that he knew that they were going to struggle with Lackey due to his location of his pitches early on. Expect it to be more of the same today, as Garcia has had outstanding command of his pitches and their location all season long.
I talked yesterday about the Cubs’ .238 batting average against left-handed pitching. However, they are still a dangerous team. If the Cardinals can get to the Cub’s Kyle Hendricks and Jaime Garcia is on, this could be another good game for them.