Garrett's 1st career shutout puts coach 'deeply in debt'

May 25th, 2024

PHOENIX -- Three weeks ago, when Marlins starting pitchers continued on their early-season swoon, pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. told the group that he would cough up a hefty sum if someone tossed a shutout.

Left-hander Ryan Weathers came close with eight innings on May 14 in Detroit. So did fellow southpaw Jesús Luzardo on Wednesday in Miami.

As lefty kept putting up zeros against a potent D-backs lineup on Friday night at Chase Field, the visiting dugout began chirping at Stottlemyre, asking if he was worried about paying up.

A deadpan Stottlemyre proclaimed to be "deeply in debt" after Garrett recorded a shutout in the Marlins' 3-0 victory over the D-backs. Miami has won eight of 11, with the pitching staff holding the opponent scoreless in five of its last nine games for the first time in franchise history.

"As a pitching coach, you're proud when they do stuff like that, go out and work on things in between, and are able to take it into the next game and shine," Stottlemyre said. "It was a brilliant game."

Garrett, whose season didn't start until May 12 because of a left shoulder impingement, joined Dontrelle Willis (April 8, 2005) as the only southpaws in franchise history to record a complete game on fewer than 100 pitches (known as a Maddux). Garrett did it on 95 pitches. Sandy Alcantara was the last Marlin to achieve the feat (May 19, 2019).

Alcantara pointed to Garrett in the postgame clubhouse and called him "Mini Sandy." That moniker seemed unlikely for Garrett. Not only did he have a 10.24 ERA in his first two starts back from the IL, but he also had never thrown nine innings before. A year ago, Garrett began his 2023 breakout campaign in the bullpen.

"I think I pulled him more than anybody last year in the sixth inning," manager Skip Schumaker said. "For him to do a complete game this year just shows you where he's at and how much better he's gotten since maybe the first day I met him in Spring Training last year."

The 26-year-old Garrett scattered four hits, struck out six and walked none to outduel 2023 National League Cy Young Award finalist Zac Gallen. No baserunners got into scoring position.

"It's awesome," Garrett said. "I wasn't expecting to do that today, but I did expect to start trending upwards. The lines in my last two weren't great, obviously, but I felt like there was a lot of good in them in the middle of those games. So just trying to put it all together. We talked about the first inning: I really tried to focus and stay locked in for that first inning and just get through it and then see what happens instead of giving up three or two runs, and putting myself in a hole. So getting that zero was huge."

Garrett faced a tough task in Friday's series opener since the D-backs led the Majors in average (.292) and on-base percentage (.347) against lefties. He knew right-handed batters Christian Walker and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. crushed mistakes, so he dotted his sinker and ensured his spin was aggressive.

All Garrett did was throw 71 of his 95 pitches for strikes (74.7%) and record an 80.6 percent first-pitch-strike rate. He kept Arizona off-balance despite a maximum velocity of 92.2 mph.

"I think he was throwing a lot of strikes, filling up the zone," Walker said. "That low pitch count, you want to wait him out and get better pitches to hit, but also it felt like everybody was starting out 0-1, 0-2, so when he's filling up the zone like that, we've got to swing."

Garrett received all the run support he would need on Otto Lopez's two-run single in the second. Jake Burger added a homer on a hanging slider in the fourth.

Miami has won 24 of Garrett's 33 starts since the start of 2023. Only Atlanta, when Spencer Strider starts (28-6), has a better record than the Marlins when Garrett pitches (24-9).

"That was electric," said Burger, who was 6-for-59 (.102) with one extra-base hit, one walk and 16 strikeouts since his return from the IL on May 6. "He's a dog, and every time he has a ball in his hands, we feel really good about it. Tonight, he was strutting with confidence the entire time and just doing his thing, and it was awesome to play behind. Seeing him do that, obviously [he] didn't start the season like he wanted to on the IL, and he comes out here and throws a gem. It's awesome seeing him back into his true form."