Onelki García got an out.
Generally—not always, but generally—a team would like more than that out of their starting pitcher.
Starting today for reasons, Monsieur García picked up right where he left off in mop-up duty in Cleveland earlier in the week, walking the first batter he faced and then giving up gapper after gapper to four of the next five Twins he faced. There was a groundout mixed in there, if for no other reason than that the abbreviation “INF” appearing where numbers should appear in a player’s ERA for the game doesn’t tell as complete a story as 108.00 does.
There really isn’t much bad luck at play there either. Pitches were grooved. Balls were ripped. This happens when a minor-league pitcher is sacrificed to the major-league gods.
With just 3.5 games separating the Royals from the Twins—a team trotting out a starting pitcher with a 5.59 ERA heading into tonight’s tilt—Ned Yost and Company opted to start Onelki García. The 28-year-old southpaw pitched mostly in Omaha after spending the 2016 season pitching in Mexico. His run in Omaha wasn’t exactly the stuff of legend. With an ERA of 5.04—and let us not pretend that Ned Yost was looking at anything past ERA and intangibles—in the Pacific Coast League that ERA estimators FIP (4.43) and xFIP (4.87) suggest was mostly representative of his performance. If a man’s face were placed alongside the term ‘organizational filler’ in the dictionary, it would be Onelki García’s.
So with a chance to gain ground in a Wild Card race against a team starting Kyle Gibson, Ned Yost and the Royals assessed their many less-than-desirable options and chose “least desirable.” Maybe the exposed lack of depth is at least in part to blame here, but with the option of pitching Ian Kennedy—who despite being horrendous for the bulk of this season is at least arguably a major-league pitcher irrespective of his contract and whose ERA accumulated at the major-league level this season (5.47) closely mirrors that of today’s starter Kyle Gibson for Minnesota—today and then getting Jake Junis (the only Royals starting pitcher other than Jason Hammel not on the disabled list whose pitching hasn’t resembled that of a dumpster set ablaze with generous use of accelerants) out there on Sunday, Yost opted for the “self-immolation” option. Unfortunately for everyone, Yost is at the helm of a ship made of popsicle sticks, and everyone else can go up in flames too.
In a world where #boomyosted was a thing that had fallen slightly out of fashion after a World Series run, the Royals skipper decided that he’d see if he couldn’t breathe new life into the hashtag. Mission accomplished.
García was positively disastrous. He gave way to Andrés Machado, a September call-up who even the most diligent of Royals fans had never heard of before yesterday. Machado got the Royals out of the first inning without allowing further harm. Unfortunately for Machado and the Royals, the same could not be said in the second.
Machado failed to record an out in the second but added plenty of runs to the Twins’ tally. He surrendered his spot atop the bump to Eric Skoglund. Balls were thrown. Outs were mercifully recorded. Not before the Twins had sent 11 to the plate in the second, though. Heading to the top of the third and facing the herculean task of trying to score runs against Cy Gibson, the Royals trailed 10-0.
They continued to trail by ten at least through the end of the fourth, as Skoglund served up a three-run shot in the bottom of the frame to Brian Dozier.
What’s the point? The Royals lost. Someone sitting around to see what the final score is will not enrich your life enough to warrant someone suffering through the horror of another futile five innings. This recap could have been published before the game even started, and certainly when García’s day was done. It’s possible that the Twins score so many runs tonight as to convince MLB to adopt a mercy rule. Whatever the final score, one truth was made evident tonight: trotting out a mediocre AAA pitching staff to face a playoff-caliber offense is not going to end well.