SYRACUSE | Christian Garcia's 2012 statistics are too staggering to ignore.
Let's just start at the beginning.
In Double-A Harrisburg, Garcia went 1-0 with seven saves in 18 appearances with a 1.35 ERA.
Pretty good numbers to start the year, but not eye-popping stuff.
Over 20 innings in Harrisburg, he gave up 13 hits, six runs, three earned runs, walked six and struck out 28 with a ground out ratio of 2-1 and an opposing batting average of .181.
Those stats were good enough to garner a promotion to Triple-A Syracuse on June 5.
Since becoming a Chief, Garcia is 1-0 with nine saves in 25.1 innings of work where he has allowed - here is where it starts to get silly - nine hits, two runs, one earned run, walked nine, struck out 33, and has a 4.38 GO/AO ratio with a .107 opposing batting average.
"I have almost the same mentality as a starter, and I try to approach things in a similar way. Everything starts off of my fastball," Garcia said about 95-97 mile per hour gas that he can dial up with movement. "That is what all of my other pitches feed off of. I attack hitters with my fastball and when I can I mix in a change or a curve to put hitters away."
Garcia, a former starter in the New York Yankees organization, has four pitches overall - fastball, curve, change, sinker - but the heater has been the primary ingredient in getting his 2012 numbers.
"He has responded really well to those scenarios from a guy that has been a starter in the past to be thrown into the closers role. It is a mentality," Syracuse manager Tony Beasley said. "He has clutch stuff across the board. He is a tough competitor. He likes it. He relishes the opportunity to finish ball games. He has been outstanding with a plus fastball and outstanding secondary pitches. It is fun to have a guy that you are comfortable with even if you have just a one run lead to close it out."
The last two times out, Garcia has stretched out to make two-inning saves for Syracuse including a six-out door close against International League North Division leading Scranton-Wilkes Barre where he walked one, gave up a hit, but struck out two in a 3-1 win on Sunday. He has never pitched in the big leagues yet, but reportedly, he will be a September call-up to bolster Washington's bullpen.
"Washington has been doing awesome. They have like the best bullpen in the big leagues and I could be a part of it somewhere down the road would be awesome," Garcia, who turns 27 on Aug. 24, said. "Right now, it is a day at a time and enjoy where I am right now. A year ago I was sitting on my couch, so I want to live in the moment."
The reason why he was on that couch was the reliever's right arm had just been sewn back together after his second Tommy John surgery when he was with the Yankees. He joined the Nationals organization in 2011 and went 3-1 with a 2.95 ERA over 18.1 innings in 10 relief appearances for Short season Single-A Auburn before one appearance in Syracuse. This year he started in the aforementioned Double-A Harrisburg.
"I sat out for a year and a half so every opportunity I get to go out there and take full advantage of it. I appreciate it," Garcia said about coming off of the second TJ. "When they call me on, I don't get butterflies, but the excitement of being out there, being on the field, with the guys between the lines carries me. You never know when your last pitch could be so you take advantage of every single pitch you throw."
"Of course there was frustration and the second time was harder," Garcia said about the 18 recovery months in 2010-11 compared to "only" the year he missed in 2007. "It helps you become mentally tough. To me it made me a better ball player all around since it happened twice."
Hmm, coming back from two Tommy John surgeries is a pretty good statistic in itself.