'A tremendous blow': Garcia to undergo Tommy John surgery

May 6th, 2023

SEATTLE -- Astros right-hander Luis Garcia will need Tommy John surgery and will miss the remainder of the regular season, general manager Dana Brown announced Friday. Garcia left Monday’s game against the Giants after only eight pitches because of pain in his right elbow.

The loss of Garcia is a huge blow to an Astros rotation that already is thin, with right-hander on the injured list (right shoulder discomfort) and right-hander working his way back from a forearm injury he suffered on Feb. 14. The team will activate right-hander J.P. France, who is set to make his Major League debut on Saturday against the Mariners.

Garcia had posted two consecutive scoreless outings before injuring his elbow Sunday. He made six starts this year, going 2-2 with a 4.00 ERA with 10 walks and 31 strikeouts.

“That’s a tremendous blow,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said after the Astros' 6-4 win over the Mariners at T-Mobile Park on Friday night. “I was praying it was something different, something minor. … He’s a strong kid. He’s in good spirits. Hopefully, France and the other young guys can give us a lift.”

Of the five pitchers who made at least 25 starts for the Astros last year, only lefty and right-hander are currently in the Houston rotation. Garcia and Urquidy are injured and Justin Verlander signed with the Mets. McCullers made eight starts at the end of last season after rehabbing an injury all year.

In addition to Valdez, Javier and France, the Astros’ other healthy starting pitchers are rookie and , who will start Sunday’s series finale in only his ninth Major League start and first since 2021.

The Astros don’t have much Major League-ready pitching depth in the Minor Leagues, either. Two starters at Triple-A Sugar Land who are on the 40-man roster are dealing with injuries. Right-hander has minor soreness in his decelerator muscle (below shoulder) and will take a day or two off, according to a source, and right-hander was placed on the seven-day injured list Friday.

With that in mind, the Astros are almost certainly going to have to make acquiring a starting pitcher or two a priority before the Trade Deadline, or even before. Still, Houston starters ranked sixth-best in the Major Leagues in ERA (3.43) entering Friday.

Garcia has been a workhorse starter for the Astros the past two years. He is 28-19 in 69 career appearances (63 starts) with a 3.61 ERA, making his debut in 2020 when he was called up from High-A. Last year, he went 15-8 in 28 starts with a 3.72 ERA in the regular season. He threw five scoreless innings in relief to close out the Astros’ 1-0, 18-inning win over the Mariners to clinch the American League Division Series in Seattle.

In 2021, Garcia was 11-8 in 30 appearances (28 starts) with a 3.48 ERA, finishing second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. He threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings in Houston’s 5-0 clinching victory in Game 6 of the AL Championship Series.