Forget Tommy John surgery — the 21-year-old Deivi Garcia is now likely to be the youngest playoff starter in New York Yankees history.
The youngster has passed Vidal Nuno on the pitching depth chart to start Game 1 of New York’s best-of-five Division Series against the Minnesota Twins.
The last-place Yankees — who recently finished no better than third in their division for a season — will now choose from a list of starters: Game 1 starter CC Sabathia, Corey Kluber and Sabathia again in Game 3; and maybe Sabathia again in Games 4 and 5 if needed.
Curtis Granderson, Jose Altuve, Lance Berkman and Mike Napoli, the NL Division Series MVP, all took turns last postseason as playoff rookies.
Garcia, who joined the Yankees’ 40-man roster last season, helped turn around their No. 2 wild-card spot as a reliever in September, after including a career-high 14 appearances on the original roster.
The Dominican, who never appeared in a game in the major leagues prior to 2018, went 4-2 with a 2.61 ERA in a career-high 75 relief appearances this season.
Sabathia is a five-time Cy Young Award winner. He was having a resurgent season, with an 11-5 record and 3.88 ERA in 27 starts, before he underwent knee surgery on July 12. Last season, he began the season by losing two out of three to the Twins.
Garcia was 5-2 with a 1.67 ERA in 14 appearances for the Yankees in the second half of the season, allowing just two earned runs in 24 innings.
Nuno started 12 games for the Yankees and went 2-3 with a 4.63 ERA this season, before undergoing Tommy John surgery.
“When you finish your career in New York, it’s a big deal for your family. It’s a big deal for your whole community,” Garcia said before New York’s final regular-season game on Wednesday. “It’s a great feeling. I’m just happy that I get to be here with my teammates and see them in this moment. I just don’t know how to explain it right now.”