Cincinnati Reds: Amir Garrett’s second-half decline is puzzling

Cincinnati Reds reliever Amir Garrett came out of the gates firing in 2019, but he has seen a massive decline over the second half of the season.

Over the first half of the season, Cincinnati Reds left-hander Amir Garrett looked unhittable and had a legitimate chance to make the All-Star Game. In July, it looked as though he would cruise through August and September to finish out his career-best season, but that’s not been the case. What is wrong with Amir Garrett?

The second half of the 2019 season has not been and easy one for Garrett, as an eight-game suspension and a trip to the injured list robbed Garrett of a decent amount of playing time over the latter half of the season. While still the best option from the left side out of the bullpen, Garrett’s performance of late has not been good.

Over his last five appearances, Amir Garrett has a 10.13 ERA and a 2.25 WHIP, while only posting a 6.8 K/9. These numbers are troubling indeed, but Wednesday night’s strikeout of Chicago Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber came in a big spot. This could be a step in the right direction if Garrett wants to close out the 2019 season on a high note.

Garrett had brief confrontation with Schwarber as he walked off the mound. It appeared that the Cubs outfielder did not appreciate Garrett celebrating and let the Reds lefty know about it. Garrett, having learned his lesson from his previous on-field altercation with the Pittsburgh Pirates, sprinted to the dugout and threw his hands up as if to say, “I’m good”.

The player toeing the rubber on Wednesday night in a pressure-packed situation against the Cubs is the version of Amir Garrett that the Cincinnati Reds need for next season, not what we have season the second half of this season. All pitchers go through their ups and downs, and I hope that this is a minor just setback for what will be a major comeback from Garrett in 2020.

Amir Garrett has one of the filthiest sliders in all of baseball and he’s been heavily reliant on it this season. Last year, Garrett threw his slider just 33% of the time, while heavily relying on his fastball. This season, we’ve seen the southpaw uncork his slider 57% of the time. Perhaps a return to dominating opponents with the heater would do Garrett some good.

Garrett is an electric player and he is a huge part of the personality of this Cincinnati Reds team. Without him, they lose that spark out of the bullpen that the team absolutely needs. Some people forget that Garrett played basketball in the old Big East with St. Johns, so he has faced plenty of adversity and pressure before, such as facing Yancy Gates in the post.