Cincinnati Reds review: Grading pitcher Amir Garrett’s 2020 season

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 25: Amir Garrett #50 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 25: Amir Garrett #50 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

Could we see Amir Garrett taking on a more prominent role in the Reds bullpen next season?

Fiery left-hander Amir Garrett continued to shine out of the Cincinnati Reds bullpen throughout the 2020 season. Appearing in 21 games, AG tossed 18.1 innings and compiled an impressive 2.45 ERA while collecting his first major league save. However, those numbers don’t adequately reflect Garrett’s true value to the team.

Throughout the shortened 2020 campaign, Garrett established career highs in a number of categories including the aforementioned ERA, ERA+ (197), WHIP (0.93), H/9 (4.9) and K/9 (12.8) rates. In other words, manager David Bell could count on AG. Nevertheless, the Reds skipper was careful in the way that Garrett was used this past season.

Despite being one of the most valuable weapons out of the Reds bullpen, Amir Garrett tossed fewer than 15 pitches in more than half of his appearances and only logged more than one inning of work three times while never going longer than 1.1 innings. No reliever who spent the entire season on the Reds roster threw fewer pitches than Garrett’s 299 total.

A-. . LHP. Cincinnati Reds. AMIR GARRETT

However, there may be good reason for Bell to be hesitant to go too deep into games with Garrett. Right-handed hitters posted a .538 slugging rate and took AG deep four times in 39 at-bats. As a result, it was probably prudent on Bell’s part to use Garrett when more favorable matchups were presented to the 28-year-old left-hander.

Left-handed hitters managed just one hit in 23 at-bats and whiffed 12 times against Garrett. You can’t be more dominant than that. It’s also this disparity in the splits that prevents Garrett from being a serious contender as a potential closer. If he were entrusted to record the final three outs, rest assured he would see plenty of right-handed bats and that would not play to his strength at all.

As good as AG was in 2020, it wasn’t a perfect season and they are some areas that need attention. For starters, his 2.0 HR/9 rate was his highest since his rookie campaign of 2017 where he spent the majority of the season as a starter. Next, his FIP of 4.34 was also his highest rate since 2017, which may indicate there was a bit of good fortune on Amir’s side as well.

Looking forward to the 2021 season, the Cincinnati Reds bullpen will have one of the deepest backends in the National League. Garrett along with closer Raisel Iglesias, and right-handers Archie Bradley and Lucas Sims give the Redlegs as formidable a bullpen as anyone. Will all four of them be on the roster on Opening Day 2021? That remains to be seen.

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What appears to be almost a certainty is Amir Garrett being on the Reds roster when they open the season against the St. Louis Cardinals, and he’ll likely be fulfilling the role we have been accustomed to seeing. David Bell will be counting on AG to retire dangerous left-handers in the seventh and eighth innings while limiting his exposure to right-handed sluggers.