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Garrett at home in 'pen, open to starting in '19

Lefty rebounds in relief after rocky 2017 debut in Reds' rotation
September 17, 2018

MILWAUKEE -- After a year in which many of their starters struggled for consistent success, the Reds will certainly have to take stock of their rotation options heading into 2019. Left-hander Amir Garrett has worked out of the bullpen all season but started 14 games in 2017.Garrett noted he would

MILWAUKEE -- After a year in which many of their starters struggled for consistent success, the Reds will certainly have to take stock of their rotation options heading into 2019. Left-hander Amir Garrett has worked out of the bullpen all season but started 14 games in 2017.
Garrett noted he would do what the team asks, but he made it clear on Monday that he's found his niche as a reliever.
"I'm up for whatever they have in store for me," Garrett said. "I've got a whole year of being in the big leagues, and that helps a lot. I've learned a lot being up here for the whole year in the bullpen. I took my lumps and bruises and had some success and some failures. Overall, I feel like I've handled it pretty well. I can do whatever they want. But I really like my home in the bullpen."
Garrett was 3-8 with a 7.49 ERA in his 14 starts during the '17 season. Entering Spring Training this year, he was on the periphery of candidates for the rotation and ultimately didn't get into the starting five. But the club has watched other young pitchers like Sal Romano, Tyler Mahle, Robert Stephenson and veteran Homer Bailey get roughed up. Matt Harvey, acquired in May, will be a free agent.
It appears that Luis Castillo and Anthony DeSclafani are the only two locks heading into next season.
Garrett, 26, entered the series opener vs. the Brewers with a 4.42 ERA in 61 appearances. His 2018 season began strongly with a 1.93 ERA over his first 27 games, before zooming up to 7.52 in his last 34 games. He missed 12 games this month with a bruised left foot and was also hit on the same leg by a comebacker on June 26 in Atlanta, which may have precipitated some of his declining numbers.

On four occasions this season, Garrett was used for two or more innings. He's also had situations where he's faced one batter -- like on Friday and Sunday against the Cubs when he was called in to face Anthony Rizzo both times.
Garrett prefers to be used regularly out of the bullpen rather than be idle for four or five days between games as a starting pitcher.
"I love being available to pitch every day. I love big situations," Garrett said. "I've ran into some trouble of late or whatever. But I like being in there. Like the situation I was in [Sunday vs. Rizzo], I was in a bunch of those situations this year. I love the adrenaline and the crowd screaming. It's an awesome thing to be a part of."
Summoned in the bottom of the seventh with two outs and two men on as the Reds held a 2-1 lead, Garrett replaced Castillo and struck out Rizzo with a slider. Cincinnati went on win by one run.
"I'm always up for the challenge," Garrett said.
Injury updates
• Stephenson, who has been on the 10-day disabled list since Aug. 30 because of right shoulder tendinitis, has not been with the club on the road trip. When the club returns to Cincinnati next week, there will be five games left in the season. It's not clear if Stephenson will be activated before the offseason.
"It's winding down. It's becoming less likely," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "If he were to get an inning or two in during that last series against Pittsburgh, that would be fine. He'd have to show he's absolutely 100 percent for us to warrant putting him out there for a couple of innings."
Stephenson is 0-2 with a 9.26 ERA in four games, including three starts. In 11 2/3 innings after he was called up in August, he allowed 17 hits and 12 walks with 11 strikeouts.
• Mahle has been on the trip and working out while dealing with right shoulder fatigue.
"He's throwing his side sessions and all that," Riggleman said. "Whether he starts again, I don't know. If he gets a couple of innings of relief, we might be able to do it in a simulated situation as opposed to a game situation to [help] him confirm in his own mind, 'Yeah, I feel great going into the offseason and do my normal offseason program to get ready for next year.'"

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.