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Give it to Reed, Hold the Lead: Evaluating Reed Garrett’s Breakout

Reed Garrett playing for the New York Mets; CC by License 2.0


Not much has gone right for the Mets this season: They’re 8 games under .500, 16.5 games back in the NL East, 10th place in the wild card race, and one of their superstars, Pete Alonso, could be traded come July. To make matters worse, their star reliever Edwin Diaz has struggled mightily in his return from a torn patellar tendon, so much so that he has been demoted from the closer role. One of the lone bright spots is the player who should take over the closer role, Reed Garrett. Garrett has bounced around the league since being drafted in 2014, even spending two seasons in Japan. The 31-year-old was picked up by the Mets last July and started the season in Triple-A, but since being called up, he has been one of the best pitchers on the team. Let’s dive into how this happened. 


Stats (Through 6/4): 31.0 IP, 2.63 pCRA, 36.8% K%, 11.3% BB%, 4.4% Barrel%, 42.6% GB%, 34.5% CSW%, 18.2% SwStr%, 39.5% Whiff%

Typically, pitchers who have high whiff rates can afford to give up harder contact because contact isn’t made very often. However, Reed Garrett has been able to both generate whiffs and limit hard contact at an elite rate, posting a 99th-percentile strikeout rate, 99th-percentile whiff rate, 80th-percentile average exit velocity, and 86th-percentile barrel rate. Using Baseball Savant’s new bat-tracking data, Garrett is only squared up on 17.6% of swings (25.7% is average). Squared-up%, to put it simply, is when the batter achieves 80% or more of the maximum exit velocity possible when considering pitch speed and bat speed. This stat supports the notion that Garrett is elite at suppressing hard contact. 

The Good

Reed Garrett is an offspeed-primary pitcher, throwing his offspeed pitches 72.7% of the time. Last season, his fastball was his primary pitch, as he threw it 31.7% of the time to poor results: 8.82 pCRA, 18.8% Barrel%, 17.1% CSW%, 17.0% Whiff%. This season, he’s dropped the usage to 19.0%. In its place, he’s increased the usage of his sweeper, which was used 10.7% of the time last season, to 24.4% this season. It’s primarily a weapon against right-handed batters. The pitch isn’t elite from a movement perspective, but he consistently locates it down-and-in, which is an unusual location for the pitch, and the results have been elite: 2.16 pCRA, 0.0% Barrel%, 40.3% CSW%, 35.6% Whiff%.

Garrett also throws a hard slider (Savant calls it a cutter) 23.9% of the time. Typically, sliders are thrown down and away so that the pitch appears as a strike before tailing away from the batter late. However, Garrett’s slider is primarily located in the upper portion of the zone, and I think it’s a conscious effort as opposed to him missing his spot with the pitch, as he locates the pitch in the zone 51.1% of the time, higher than the average of 44%. Garrett’s slider averages 90.7 mph, higher compared to the average which is 85.3 mph, and 7.0 inches of induced-vertical break, compared to the average of 1.7 inches (drops less than average). Because he induces much more vertical break than average, the pitch has a +1.11 vertical approach angle above average (VAA AA), meaning that the pitch looks like it rises as it arrives at home plate. Typically, vertical approach angle is talked about regarding fastballs, but in general, pitches with a positive VAA AA want to be thrown up in the zone to jump over bats. That’s exactly what Garrett does, and the stats speak for themselves: 2.33 pCRA, 0.0% Barrel%, 44.8% CSW%, 40.4% Whiff%

Garrett’s bread-and-butter pitch is his splitter He throws it 23.4% of the time but ups the usage to 53.9% in 2-strike counts. It has a little more run than the average splitter but overall doesn’t profile as elite from a movement perspective. Even then, this is his best pitch, evidenced by the stats: -0.34 pCRA, 0.0% Barrel%, 34.4% CSW%, 58.0% Whiff%

Room for Improvement

As mentioned earlier, Garrett throws his four-seamer significantly less than last year, but if he can improve the location of the pitch, it has the potential to be at least average. The pitch is average from a shape perspective (96.1 MPH, 16.8 IVB, +0.35 VAA AA). The problem is that the pitch is often uncompetitive, as evidenced by his 42.4% zone rate (55.9% is average) and this has led to a 27.6% walk rate on the pitch. When he does throw strikes, the pitch has gotten hit hard, evidenced by a 94.4 MPH average exit velocity and 12.5% barrel rate. If he can consistently locate the pitch, it will set up the rest of his repertoire even better. 

Final Thoughts

Reed Garrett has been one of the lone bright spots on an otherwise disappointing campaign for the Mets. He’s already elite at missing bats, which is scary considering his poor fastball command. While I don’t expect the Mets to trade him, he will be one of the hottest names available if that’s the route they decide to take. 

Stats via Baseball Savant, Alex Chamberlain Pitch Leaderboard


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