Astros’ Luis Garcia Leaves ALCS Game 2 Due To Right Knee Discomfort

5:06PM: Garcia left the game due to discomfort in his right knee, the Astros announced.

4:34PM: Astros starter Luis Garcia made an early exit from Game 2 of the ALCS, leaving with a possible injury in the second inning.  After issuing a four-pitch walk to Kevin Plawecki to begin the frame, Garcia was visited on the mound by the team trainer, and ended up departing after consultation with manager Dusty Baker and pitching coach Brent Strom.

It has already been a nightmarish day for Garcia, who allowed four runs in the first inning thanks to a J.D. Martinez grand slam.  Only 14 of Garcia’s 33 pitches were strikes, continuing the control problems that plagued his first postseason start — Garcia allowed three walks and five hits in 2 2/3 innings in Game 3 of the ALDS, a 12-6 Astros loss to the White Sox.

The 24-year-old Garcia entered the playoffs on the heels of a quality rookie season that will surely net him some AL Rookie Of The Year consideration.  The right-hander posted a 3.30 ERA/3.91 SIERA and above-average strikeout (26.4%) and walk (7.9%) rates over 155 1/3 innings for Houston this season, starting 28 of his 30 games.

That solid form hasn’t continued into October, however, and now Garcia could be in danger of missing the World Series.  If Garcia’s injury requires him to be substituted off Houston’s roster, Garcia would be ineligible to pitch for the next postseason round, should the Astros advance past the Red Sox.

The other major concern for the Astros is that if Garcia is seriously hurt, the team is running short on pitching.  Lance McCullers Jr. (flexor pronator muscle strain) is already an omission from the ALCS roster and might not even be an option for the World Series if the Astros make it.  Game 1 starter Framber Valdez lasted only 2 2/3 innings, requiring a big effort from Houston’s bullpen to salvage the victory.  Jake Odorizzi took over for Garcia in relief, so the veteran’s availability for future games might be in question depending on how long he pitches today.

Jose Urquidy is scheduled to start Game 3 at Fenway Park, and Odorizzi’s usage today likely means that either Cristian Javier or Zack Greinke (who has been used as a reliever this postseason) will be starting Game 4.  With the red-hot Boston lineup hitting everything in sight, the Astros pitching staff faces a tall order for the remainder of the ALCS.