The Red Sox bullpen has been mighty impressive this season with some break-out seasons from several players. In Matt’s post from Tuesday about Daniel Bard, he did a great job of explaining the successes they’ve had this season. So being the Negative Nancy that I am, I’ll focus on the flaws. Or flaw, rather. Of all the players currently in the bullpen, only two (Matt Barnes and Garrett Whitlock) have walked fewer than four batters per nine innings so far this season. Three players (Darwinzon Hernandez, Brandon Workman and, Yacksel Ríos) have walked more than seven batter per nine innings, with the latter two having more walks than strikeouts on the season.
Given how we know every pitch gets ramped up a notch in the playoffs and every at-bat becomes that much more magnified and meaningful, giving your opponent free baserunners is a recipe for disaster and a quick exit. With the Red Sox currently sits atop the AL East, and considering the old adage of it being impossible to have too much pitching, particularly in relief, I present my viral campaign to #GimieYimi.
Throwing from a three-quarters slot, Marlins reliever Yimi García uses his elite spin rate, above-average velocity on his fastball (it’s sat 96 mph this year, per Baseball Savant) and curveball to keep hitters off balance and keep the ball in the yard despite a lower-than-average 39 percent ground ball rate.
Also, getting back to the point being made in the opening paragraph of this post, the Red Sox could do well to add a reliever who also doesn’t give up a lot of free passes, and as the 30-year-old’s (he’ll turn 31 next month) career 2.05 walks per nine displays, he’s got those under control. This is García’s first season as a closer, having previously served in set-up roles for both Miami and the Dodgers, and he’s shown he’s up to the high leverage task with a 3.47 ERA on the season while converting 15 of 18 save chances. Although the Red Sox don’t need a closer, adding someone with that experience who can spell Matt Barnes in a crunch to avoid overuse would be a smart target for the Sox.
Now, for the non-statistical reason why Yimi makes sense. We’ll start with his price tag in terms of actual money owed. García is due $1.6 million this season, and prorated for the last couple of months of the season it’s barely a drop in the bucket compared to other closing options like Craig Kimbrel. On top of that we have his price tag in terms of what it would cost to acquire him. Since García is a free agent after this season, he would be a true rental acquisition and would probably cost less than options with more years of control left like a Daniel Bard, Craig Kimbrel, or José Cisnero types. It’s not a perfectly analogous deal, but the price the Athletics just paid for Andrew Chafin could give a rough idea of what someone like García could cost. (Chafin does have a mutual option for 2022, but those are rarely executed.)
In short, if the Red Sox are looking to add a reliever, and specifically one who’s cost-effective, has excelled in high leverage situations, and has great control on the mound and can keep his walk rate in check, well, Yimi García checks all those boxes. So #GimieYimi.