Yeudy Garcia Removed from Start with Back Injury; Brandon Waddell Injury Update

ALTOONA, Pa. – Yeudy Garcia was removed in the second inning of Wednesday night’s Curve game with a back injury. Manager Michael Ryan provided an update after the game saying that Garcia pulled something in his back, and it was very evident after the final pitch he threw tonight.

Garcia did not look good before being pulled from the game anyway, but the back injury did not seem to affect him in the first inning. After a bunch of hard hit balls and a walk in the second, Garcia was pulled during the middle of an at-bat to Portland’s Rafael Devers. Manager Michael Ryan and the Curve’s trainer ran out to the mound immediately, and after a few moments, Ryan signaled to the bullpen to remove Garcia from the game.

Ryan said that Garcia will be further evaluated tomorrow, but it does not seem as this point that he will be able to make his next scheduled start.

“We won’t know anything until tomorrow, but I can’t imagine him making his next start,” Ryan said. “Backs are tricky especially with a delivery.”

Although injuries are never good for any professional athlete, a little time down may do Garcia some good, as he has not been good this year at all.

Throughout the season, the Pirates have wanted Garcia to rediscover his fastball command, and that has not quite happened for the righty. His walk rate is at a career high – 5.60 BB/9 – mostly because he hasn’t been able to control that fastball well enough.

The lack of fastball command leads to ineffectiveness, or lack of usage, of his secondary pitches.

“His slider has always been a good pitch, and it’s a good pitch right now,” Ryan said. “The changeup is a really good pitch, but he doesn’t get to use it much because he’s always fighting from behind. I would say his number one priority is getting that fastball command and control back.”

The slider has still been a good pitch for Garcia, but its effectiveness takes a major hit when he cannot get ahead of counts with the fastball. Once batters know that he is throwing the slider, it is easier for them to sit on the pitch.

These issues have led to almost every stat line being inflated for Garcia this season. He has a whopping 6.60 ERA after 12 outings. His ground ball rate is at a career low of 33.1%. Fewer ground balls will mean more balls in the air, and those fly balls haven’t stayed in the ball park. His HR/9 is at 1.40, triple his rate from last season, and his HR/FB rate is at 12.3%.

You cannot dismiss the fact that Garcia had some sort of off-season shoulder operation, whether minor or more, which may be affecting his velocity and command.

“I think he’s probably five months out of surgery, and he has to get his strength back,” Justin Meccage said. “He developed some bad habits last year pitching through the injury. We’re trying to regain those good habits that he did have in 2015.”

Brandon Waddell Receives a Platelet-Rich Plasma Injection

Brandon Waddell finds himself back on the disabled list after receiving a PRP injection in his forearm. The injury is a re-aggravation of the same injury that landed him on the DL in April, which Waddell described as “forearm tightness”.

His timetable is 6-8 weeks at the very least, which puts the rest of the season in jeopardy at this point. An MRI of his arm did not reveal any more concerns; however, Michael Ryan said that they want to take their time with him this time around and see how he responds.