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The Red Report 2020 - Amir Garrett

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Will the big lefty provide a whole season of top shelf performance?

Cincinnati Reds Photo Day Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Fast Facts

  • Born May 3, 1992 in Victorville, California.
  • Bats: Right; Throws: Left
  • Was drafted by the Reds out of Henderson International School in Henderson, Nevada. According to Baseball Reference’s tables, he’s the only player to be selected from the school.
  • Eventually attended St. John’s University to play college basketball (with the Reds blessing).
  • Was a four star basketball recruit while also receiving a $1 million signing bonus from the Reds to play baseball.
  • Very athletic.

Organizational History

  • Drafted by the Reds in the 22nd round of the 2011 amateur draft. Signed in August.
  • Debuted for the Reds on April 7, 2017.
  • Pre-Arbitration Eligible; Arbitration Eligible: 2021; Free Agent: 2024

Career Stats

Scouting Report

Statcast
Fangraphs

Amir Gif-ett

Projections

Fangraphs

Outlook

It was, like it’s been, a tale of two halves for Amir Garrett.

From the beginning of the season through July 2 (his last appearance before the All Star break), Garrett pitched 37 innings in 42 games, allowing a 1.70 ERA with a .191/.307/.290 slash against. He gave up 20 walks in those 37 innings.

In his final 19 innings of the season, from July 20 on, Garrett pitched in only 19 innings, allowing a 6.16 ERA with a .250/.387/.474 slash against. He gave up 15 walks in those 19 innings.

Amir ended up on the inactive list with a left lat strain on July 4th, which carried through the break. It was an All Star break that Amir wouldn’t have been able to participate in, but, all told, he probably should’ve made the NL team as a reliever, should they have taken one. He was, as the number suggest above, absolutely dominant.

But, as we touched on last year, something about an injury and maybe just another nearly 40 innings on the arm... Garrett had a very bad second half of the season. All told, he managed a good: 12.5 K/9, 3.21 ERA with a bad: 5.6 BB/9, 4.14 FIP.

That walk number is especially bad. Minimum 50 innings pitched, it was the 8th highest in all of baseball for relievers, and only one player above him on the list managed an fWAR higher than Garrett’s 0.4 (Brandon Workman, who apparently doesn’t allow a home run, never ever).

I also mentioned in last year’s Garrett report that he didn’t have a thing in his arsenal like Raisel Iglesias has in his. I was wrong. Amir Garrett’s slider is probably one of the most filthy pitches on the team. When he locates it, the goddamn thing is nearly unhittable. He threw it 58% of the time in 2019, and yielded only 15 hits off of it, good for a .121 batting average, with only a .181 XSLG, according to Statcast. It generated a swing and miss 54.7% of the time. When it’s located, it’s just pure filth.

And that’s what it comes down to: when it’s located. When he can’t find the strike zone, or if it’s not close enough to generate swings and misses, things seem to get a little bit off the rails. His 14.2% BB% ranks in the bottom two percent of the league.

So for 2020, it’s about a couple of things for Garrett. First and foremost, it’s locating the stuff. It’s easy to see that the pitches are good enough, they just have to find the strike zone often enough to make it worth it. The other part of it is avoiding the lingering type of injury. Injuries are a part of the game, but in each of Amir’s first three seasons an injury has either directly derailed his season or has, seemingly, affected his performance once he’s returned.

As a player, you can’t “avoid” those injuries. Especially as a pitcher. Shit, as they say, is going to happen. And correlation doesn’t equal causation. If Amir Garrett is out there and pitching, there’s no reason to believe that he’s not healthy enough to pitch at a high level.

The Reds didn’t make many moves for the bullpen because they think that it’s capable of being a great unit. Amir Garrett is a huge part of it, especially with the stuff that provides. He’ll need to do it for an entire season in 2020.