Amir Garrett: As Bad As I Thought He Was? Probably not. Still a bad pitcher? You Damn Right. Will I Ever Publicly Admit That? No. An article you shouldn’t read because who wants to roster Amir Garrett besides Patrick? PS I hate you Keaton. A TDG Freshtake
This article is written under protest. It is a penalty of naivete. A product of a simple-minded man (me) genuinely interested in Yangervis Solarte, being punished by a troll (Keaton DeRoacher) for the lulz.
It’s almost an honor, to be the subject of a man so dedicated to his craft and at the peak of his trolling powers. His response to my inquiry and offer was less than a minute. Now, here I sit beholden to writing about a middling pitcher who I have already detailed an extensive dislike about. As the kids say, I was “pwned:” I digress.
When going back over the Triple Play: Cincinnati Reds, there were some things I nailed and some things I got wrong. Let’s start with what I got wrong. Amir Garrett no longer has a middling fastball. It’s clear the hip injury played into the dip in his 2017 fastball velocity. Eno Sarris had begun writing about Garrett’s increased velocity in spring training and it has been sustained. One could reasonably assume this is – at least in part – due to his role change from starter to reliever. The common rule of thumb is that higher velo equals suppressed runs; that seems to hold up here as Garrett is posting a respectable run line (1.40 ERA/ 2.75 FIP/ 2.66 SIERA).
What else has changed with Garrett that may point to some success? Well, for starters he’s done something magical with his free pass problem, by cutting it in half from a year ago. He’s also eliminated his use of the changeup (14.7% in 2017, 4.7% in 2018) in favor of a slider that has been particularly devastating against lefties. In other words, his trend towards two pitches has calcified now that he is only being asked to pitch one or two innings at a time.
Despite both his fastball velocity and his slider’s swinging strike rate notably increasing, and despite his walk rate decreasing, Garrett nevertheless continues have an alarmingly high 42.4% hard-hit rate. Of the 64 MLB relievers with 20 IP or more at the time of this writing, only 5 are hit harder than Garrett. Would you be surprised if I told you his fastball, which he uses 60% of the time, generates a high contact rate? Probably not. Would you be surprised if I said that it’s clear that batters are sitting back and waiting for a fastball on which to pounce, a strategy that has led to an above average SLG percentage? I hope not.
It’s nice to revisit perceived truths and examine whether they withstand the test of time. Undoubtedly, some people change for the better and some change for the worse. For example, I thought Keaton was a benevolent troll, only casting his wizardry upon those deserving of pain. I also thought Amir Garrett was a washout middling reliever on a bad baseball team. I am a big enough man to say at least one of those thoughts were wrong.