The right-hander is slated to start Wednesday’s series finale against the Minnesota Twins, but he isn’t a member of the starting rotation. Rather, García is the opener for the Tigers’ bullpen game.
García, though, is preparing like a starter.
“I’ve been a starter in the minor leagues,” García said Tuesday, with Tigers bilingual media coordinator Carlos Guillen interpreting. “Now that I have a chance to start in the major leagues, I already have my routine. I know how to prepare myself for that. It’s an easy thing for me.”
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The last time García pitched was May 18, when the Tigers removed left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez from his start against the Tampa Bay Rays with one out in the first inning.
Rodriguez has since landed on the 15-day injured list with a left ribcage sprain, joining five other starting pitchers on the injured list: Casey Mize (right elbow sprain), Matt Manning (right shoulder inflammation), Michael Pineda (right middle finger fracture), Tyler Alexander (left elbow sprain) and Spencer Turnbull (Tommy John surgery).
García came out of the bullpen and fired 54 pitches across 2⅔ innings of one-run ball against the Rays. The 24-year-old recorded six strikeouts, allowing one walk and one home run.
On Wednesday, García is expected to throw 55-60 pitches.
“Being named a starter in Major League Baseball, it’s a privilege,” García said. “Not everybody has the chance or the privilege. For me, it’s very important and means a lot. Besides that, I got to do my job. I got to give my team the chance to win and throw strikes as much as I can.”
This season, García carries a 2.57 ERA with three walks and 17 strikeouts in 14 innings over eight games out of the bullpen.
Opponents are hitting .130 with two home runs and six strikeouts against his 93.3 mph four-seam fastball and .118 with eight strikeouts against his 81.1 mph curveball. He also throws an 88.4 mph changeup and a 93.8 mph sinker.
“I’m making some adjustments on my mechanics,” said García, who is working closely with assistant pitching coach Juan Nieves. “Doing that specifically will help me have better mechanics to throw my secondary pitches with a bigger break and more control.”
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García has appeared in 25 games for the Tigers across the past three seasons, combining for a 5.59 ERA over 38⅔ innings, but he only has two games of experience as a starting pitcher.
He started July 23, 2020, making his MLB debut, and pitched three innings. About one week later, on Aug. 2, he made his second start in his second MLB game and went two innings.
Since then, García has been a reliever.
“He’s been a strike thrower, which is good,” manager A.J. Hinch said Tuesday. “He’s pretty fearless. He handles the role that he’s in now very, very well. I hope he doesn’t change his approach because he’s starting a game.”
Matt Manning chased in Toledo
Making his fourth rehab start for Triple-A Toledo, right-hander Matt Manning (right shoulder inflammation) exited Tuesday with two outs in the second inning at Fifth Third Field.
He needed 13 pitches in the first inning, then 30 pitches in the second.
The 24-year-old allowed one run on two hits and two walks with three strikeouts across 1⅔ innings against the Nashville Sounds, the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.
He did not sustain an injury.
The Tigers planned to put Manning through three rehab starts with the Mud Hens. But in his third rehab outing, which took place last Thursday, he departed in the second inning — after throwing 49 pitches — due to dehydration.
That sparked a fourth rehab start, thus delaying Manning’s return to the Tigers. Entering Tuesday’s start, the Tigers expected Manning to re-join the Tigers and start during the upcoming nine-game homestand.
After another early exit, the latest timeline could be in jeopardy.
Manning has been on the injured list since April 20.
Tyler Alexander update
Left-hander Tyler Alexander (left elbow sprain) is scheduled to throw live batting practice Thursday in Lakeland, Florida, home of the Tigers’ spring training complex.
On May 2, the Tigers sent Alexander to the 15-day injured list
The 27-year-old has an 8.76 ERA with five walks and nine strikeouts in 12⅓ innings over four starts. He allowed nine runs across his past six innings. Then, the Tigers put him on the injured list and sent him to Lakeland.
Mize, sidelined by a right elbow sprain, is not throwing.