Marlins provide happy ending to Garrett's stellar return

May 12th, 2024

MIAMI -- During their overlapping rehab assignments a week ago, Marlins left-handers Jesús Luzardo and lamented being sidelined as the club struggled.

The Marlins dropped Luzardo’s return from the injured list on Saturday, but they pulled out a win the next day in Garrett’s season debut Sunday afternoon, walking off the Phillies, 7-6, in 10 innings at loanDepot park.

In an at-bat that included a missed sign and bunt, pinch-hitter Emmanuel Rivera sent a comebacker off lefty Gregory Soto and into right field to score placed runner Nick Fortes. Miami’s third walk-off victory of the season snapped a five-game skid and was the first time a Marlin recorded a pinch-hit walk-off RBI since Bryan Holaday on Aug. 11, 2018.

“Me -- and I know Jesús as well -- we don't want to leave the team,” said Garrett, who struck out eight and pitched into the sixth. “It sucks being away for the month and a half, whatever it was. He's pissed he missed those days, too. So we want to be here and get out there every time our name's called and just go as deep as we can.”

Garrett, who had been sidelined with a left shoulder impingement, pitched much better than his final line (5 ER, 5 1/3 IP). After Nick Castellanos jumped his first-pitch curveball for a three-run homer in the first, Garrett retired 14 of 16 until Bryce Harper’s leadoff single in the sixth. Working with Christian Bethancourt for the first time, Garrett relied heavily on a sinker/slider combination.

Following a hard lineout to center and Garrett’s second walk of the game in the sixth, manager Skip Schumaker took him out at 80 pitches. Lefty Andrew Nardi proceeded to give up a pair of inherited runs on Edmundo Sosa’s triple to left, then allowed Brandon Marsh (sacrifice fly) to tie the game at 6.

“I think there's pitchers in the league that it goes from three runs to six runs in a hurry and you have to go to your bullpen pretty quick,” Schumaker said. “[Garrett] put together four more zeros and got into the sixth inning. I felt like he got a little bit tired towards the end -- rightfully so. He hasn't pitched all year at this level and that kind of environment.”

Added Garrett: “I was happy the way I responded after the first inning. I felt like those innings I put up zeros, I just kept getting better and better. I kind of hit a wall there in the sixth inning, but we'll try and get over that next one.”

The 26-year-old Garrett broke out in 2023 after making the Opening Day roster out of the bullpen. He went on to set career highs across the board -- from innings to strikeouts -- with a 123 ERA+ in 31 games (30 starts). His 5.38 strikeout-to-walk ratio ranked third in the National League (minimum 150 innings), trailing only Logan Webb (6.26) and Zack Wheeler (5.44). By the end of the season, Garrett had become the club's most consistent starter, allowing three earned runs or fewer in 25 outings.

Due to season-ending injuries to Sandy Alcantara and Eury Pérez, Luzardo and Garrett started Games 1-2 of the NL Wild Card Series against the Phillies. Sunday marked the first time Garrett took the mound in a big league setting since then.

“You're hoping for that out of Spring Training,” Schumaker said. “There's a reason why they were our guys in the playoffs last year -- Nos. 1 and No. 2 -- and we haven't seen No. 1 and No. 2 the whole year. It's good to write their name on the lineup card, see them back, see them healthy, and being able to go in the sixth inning is just really good, because it's going to help our bullpen, too. It's just not the starting pitcher. It helps everybody. And as a position player, you come to the park knowing you have a chance to win is a really good feeling.”

While Garrett dealt, Miami tagged Wheeler for a season-high six runs. He entered Sunday's finale tied for the highest fWAR among Major League pitchers and the third-lowest ERA.

Josh Bell slugged a three-run homer in the third to give Miami a 4-3 lead, the fourth pitch from Wheeler that Bell has taken deep in his career. It's the most homers Bell has hit against a single pitcher. Miami tacked on a pair of runs to make it a 6-3 ballgame in the fourth.

“I just think I'm playing better,” said Bell, who is batting .270 in May after hitting .181 in March/April. “I'm not working any harder. I haven't really changed too much in the routine and whatnot. I'm just seeing a little bit more with the results. Obviously, homers help, but for the most part, I feel like just balls have been dropping a little bit more for me.”