The San Diego Padres lost to the San Francisco Giants last night after having a 4-0 lead at one point. Manager Bob Melvin chose to bring in Luis Garcia (5.23 ERA entering Monday) in the ninth inning with a 4-2 lead and the 36-year-old couldn’t consistently throw strikes.
Garcia lasted four batters, which perhaps was one too long, as he walked two, spiked one in the dirt that brought in a run, allowed a hard-hit single and a sac fly that advanced a runner to third.
Going into the game, I didn’t trust Garcia in a high leverage situation. A little over a week ago, Garcia gave up two runs and three hits in 0.1 innings in a loss at Colorado. He just hasn’t been the same as he was last year.
“We’re trying to get Garcίa going,” Melvin told the media (including Kevin Acee) after the game. “We’re trying to give him a chance. It hasn’t worked to this point. We definitely need another guy down there, another righty. We’re using the same two guys in Wilson and Martinez. It just hasn’t happened.”
I understand what Melvin is saying. The Padres had limited options because they were down their three best relievers (Josh Hader, Nick Martinez, Steven Wilson) who pitched back-to-back days in the Tampa Bay Rays series so Garcia was one of the few righty options available. While there is a time to give Garcia a chance, it’s not in the ninth inning.
Anyone though that wants Melvin fired needs to understand something: he isn’t going anywhere. He has always tried to show he has faith in his players and sometimes it works out really well.
Take Hader for example. He looked like Garcia last night when he first came over in the trade with the Milwaukee Brewers last year, allowing 12 earned runs in just 2.2 innings in a five game span last August. The last of those five outings was August 28 in Kansas City. Hader got fewer batters out than Wil Myers. That’s how bad he was.
But three days later Melvin put him into a 5-4 game in the same ballpark Garcia struggled in last night and Hader ended up getting the save. Of course we know he ended up pitching like the best closer in baseball the rest of the way.
I get Garcia is not as good as Hader but Melvin and pitching coach Ruben Niebla know there’s still more they can get out of him—just like they knew there was more they could get out of Hader than what they were getting.
When Melvin consistently believes in his players like he does, it makes the players want to run through a wall for him. I’d rather have a manager who has faith in his players than one who doesn’t. This is who Melvin is and it’s who he will always be. Sometimes it doesn’t work out but it usually works out eventually.