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Garcia harnessing fastball command as starter

Special to MLB.com

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Jarlin Garcia has 89 starts under his belt, but all are accumulative over six Minor League seasons. For the Marlins in 2017, the rookie left-hander appeared in a team-high 68 games -- all out of the bullpen.

Transitioning back to the starting rotation, this time at the Major League level, is a challenge Garcia is taking on this spring for a Marlins club hungry for starting pitching.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Jarlin Garcia has 89 starts under his belt, but all are accumulative over six Minor League seasons. For the Marlins in 2017, the rookie left-hander appeared in a team-high 68 games -- all out of the bullpen.

Transitioning back to the starting rotation, this time at the Major League level, is a challenge Garcia is taking on this spring for a Marlins club hungry for starting pitching.

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"I don't think it's such a big transition for him," manager Don Mattingly said. "I think the biggest challenge that Jarlin has is fastball command."

Garcia threw two relief innings -- his second outing of the spring -- on Saturday in the Marlins' 1-0 win over the Mets at Port St. Lucie. He turned in an efficient 27-pitch, 16-strike outing and faced the minimum, thanks to a double-play grounder and a caught stealing.

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The 25-year-old southpaw threw two scoreless innings against Houston on Feb. 26, striking out one, walking one and allowing one hit.

Whether it's starting or coming out of the bullpen, Garcia said it all comes down to preparation -- and that also applies to fastball command. Garcia (1-2, 4.73 ERA) threw 53 1/3 innings for the Marlins last season, striking out 42 while issuing 17 walks.

"I'm trying to get control of my fastball through repetition," Garcia said. "It's going out there and taking all the reps in practice and applying them to the game."

After having seen Garcia for a full season, Mattingly said he has been impressed with Garcia's raw talent and now hopes he simply refines it.

"When you watch his 'pens and stuff, him getting the ball where he wants and having control of his delivery, because it can be a little violent at times," Mattingly said. "When he gets control of that, he throws the ball where he wants.

"Right now, I still see a lot of misses. When he's trying to go away, [the pitch] is running into the middle of the plate. He's trying to go in and it runs off the plate."

Video: MIA@WSH: Garcia induces DP to end threat in 5th

Working with pitching coach Juan Nieves and the coaching staff, Garcia has focused on maintaining body control throughout his delivery.

"It's getting much better," Garcia said. "At the beginning of camp, it was kind of tough getting used to, but as we get going on, it's part of the process. You're here in camp to work on these things, and it's gotten better throughout. Now, it's just about keep improving."

There's no question about Garcia's talent. Harnessing it is going to be the key moving forward.

"He's got the weapons, it's just a matter of him just understanding his delivery -- what causes what -- continued improvement with his fastball command," Mattingly said. "That's what's going to take him to a different level. If he has fastball command, he has a chance to be one of those guys that can be a really solid, really good big leaguer."

Miami Marlins, Jarlin Garcia