Before the Orioles demoted him to the minors and then swapped him to the Braves for cash considerations, Freddy Garcia was practically keeping pace with teammate Chris Davis for the major league home run lead. That's great if you're a slugging first baseman, and much less so if you're a 36-year-old soft-tosser trying to avoid Triple-A towns like Norfolk and Gwinnett. Garcia served up 16 home runs for the O's, tied for second-most ever for a pitcher throwing no more than his 53 inning workload (Brian Matusz allowed 18 HR in 49.2 IP for Baltimore in 2011).
Since the Braves acquired him as Brandon Beachy insurance, however, Garcia has thrived. In three relief appearances and starts apiece, he has a 20-to-5 strikeout to walk ratio, a 1.65 ERA and just two home runs allowed in 27.1 innings pitched. Garcia might even get the nod over Paul Maholm as Atlanta's Game 4 starter in the NL Division Series. The Chief has drastically reduced his homer rate -- and likely extended his flat lining career -- by avoiding the upper portions of the strike zone.
In Baltimore, Garcia threw a near equal distribution of pitches to the upper third (34 percent), middle (31 percent) and lower third (35 percent) of the zone. He was successful when he kept the ball down, serving up a single home run and limiting hitters to a .302 slugging percentage. But opponents tagged Garcia for a combined 15 round-trippers and a .658 slugging percentage when he threw a belt-high or letter-high offering. Basically, Garcia turned batters into Darwin Barney on low pitches and Davis on middle and high pitches.
Garcia's pitch location with Baltimore
Garcia is doing a much better job of hammering hitters at the knees with Atlanta, tossing 25 percent of his pitches to the upper third of the zone, 32 percent to the middle, and 43 percent to the lower third. He hasn't coughed up an extra-base hit, much less a homer, on a low pitch as a Brave (.098 opponent slugging percentage).
Garcia's pitch location with Atlanta