AG's back ... and he's bringing his groove

May 17th, 2021

DENVER -- Wade Miley noticed something. Amir Garrett listened.

The veteran left-hander saw that Garrett was "leaking his front side" too much during his delivery, opening up with his lead shoulder and allowing hitters to get a better look at the pitch to come earlier than Garrett's customary deception usually affords. 

"Wade has been around forever," Garrett said on his first day back with the Reds following a five-game suspension for his involvement in a benches-clearing incident against the Cubs on May 1. "He’s always there to help. He’s always very respectful because he doesn’t want to overstep his boundaries. But anytime a guy like him says something to you, you listen."

Miley told Garrett that he had the same issue two years ago. All the more reason to listen to the man, considering he threw a no-hitter two starts ago.

Garrett was great for the Reds from 2019-20, posting a 3.03 ERA (160 ERA+) and striking out nearly one out of every three batters that he faced. But so far, the '21 campaign hasn't been going so well for the 29-year-old left-hander -- he's got an ERA of 8.71, having surrendered 10 runs in 10 1/3 innings.

Garrett's normally dominant slider has been getting hit hard, with opponents hitting .286 against the pitch after hitting just .139 against it in 2020.

"I was like, 'How are they getting to this?' It’s my best pitch, you don’t hit this ball like that, you don’t," Garrett said. "These hitters get paid to hit the ball, and any little thing they can see that they’ve never seen before against a pitcher like myself or somebody else, they’re going to take it and run with it."

As he returns to the mound, Garrett will be throwing sliders off the fastball, which he said worked for him before the suspension. He'll try to establish the four-seamer to set up his signature pitch. And he's glad that he can finally put what he's learned into practice. Following the five-game suspension, Garrett was champing at the bit to get back on the mound, tiring of watching games on TV.

"You didn’t see me. I was probably up there in the press box for a little bit and went to the hotel room and watched it from there," Garrett said. "Sometimes I got too upset, so I had to get to the hotel because I was like, 'I’m not out there to compete with my guys,' so I had to leave."

Now he's back with his guys. In his first appearance since Monday, Garrett posting a 1-2-3 sixth inning Sunday vs. the Rockies, bookending strikeouts around a groundout. It appears that he may have solved the mystery behind his difficult April.

"I was getting my groove back when I got suspended," Garrett said. "I'll just pick up where I left off and be all right."