Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said Friday he is not afraid to call right-hander Bryan Garcia his closer. It helps that Garcia has been impressive in 21 appearances for the team, saving two games with a 1.56 ERA and getting the team out of several bases-loaded jams.
Garcia, 25, has been successful because he is not afraid to attack the hitters. Besides his fastball, which is clocked in the mid-90s, Garcia has a nice changeup and slider. With the Tigers in a playoff hunt, Gardenhire said Garcia is the one reliever who has stepped up. Garcia had Tommy John surgery in 2018, but the days of babying his arm are over, according to Gardenhire.
“We are just trying to win games; that’s what this is all about,” Gardenhire said. “We try to put the best pitcher in there. We have all these sheets with the matchups and everything. We still go by some of those, but if a guy takes the ball and runs with it, that fine. So far, we feel kind of feel comfortable with [Garcia].”
Garcia believes he can handle the closer’s role because he can block out the emotions tied to getting the last three outs of a game. And why not? He was a closer at the University of Miami, saving 43 games from 2014 to ’16.
“Those last three outs are a little more difficult, but I have that mindset of whatever happens, happens,” Garcia said. “You have to go out there and help the team and win that game.”
For Garcia, the most important pitch is strike one. Getting that first out is also important.
“You have to get ahead. You have to get that first guy out, especially,” Garcia said. “You get that first guy out, you are putting yourself in a good spot.”
Gardenhire didn’t say when infielder Niko Goodrum [right oblique strain] would return to action, but said Goodrum “has been swinging and letting it fly. Everything seems to be going on the up and up.”