Garrett on closer job: 'It's mine to lose'

December 16th, 2020

CINCINNATI -- The job of Reds’ closer opened up last week, when the team traded Raisel Iglesias to the Angels. Left-handed reliever made it crystal clear that he wants the ball in the ninth inning.

“To me, it’s mine to lose,” Garrett said on Tuesday. “I’m just going to go in there and take it. Not a lot of things are earned, and nothing is given. I’m just going to go and take it.”

Garrett, 28, has already informed manager David Bell of his intentions to fill that role. On Monday, Bell mentioned that Garrett would be a candidate, along with Lucas Sims and Tejay Antone. The club could also add a reliever from outside the organization.

The moving of Iglesias was a financial decision to save over $9 million in salary for the upcoming season.

“I don’t see who else would get the role,” Garrett said. “I know there’s a lot of guys who are deserving, but I’ve done this consistently for three years. I’ve waited my turn. Management and David know I want to be a closer. I understand that nothing is given. Basically, nothing is earned either. With this organization, I earned the fifth starter’s spot in 2018, and if you guys remember, I had a really good spring. They told me, ‘If you pitch good, you will get this spot.’ I pitched outstanding and still didn’t get it, and they put me in the bullpen, which is fine.

“Even if I earn it, I know I’m not going to get it, so I have to go and take it. That’s what I’m going to do, go and take it. The competition for the job is going to be awesome. It’s going to elevate the team, no matter who gets it. It’s going to elevate us as a whole.”

In 2020, Garrett was 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in 21 games. Left-handed batters went 1-for-23 (.043) with 12 strikeouts while right-handers were 9-for-39 (.231) with 14 strikeouts. He retired the first batter in 18 of his appearances, including each of his first 15 appearances to begin the season.

Garrett broke into the Majors as a starting pitcher for the Reds in 2017, but he has been a reliever the past three seasons. He has a 3.65 ERA in 158 career relief appearances.

“It’s time to go to the next level. I want to be a lockdown closer,” Garrett said. “I want to come into the ninth inning, and I want to shut the game down. That’s my mentality. You guys know how I pitch. I’m a dog out there. I’m fiery. I do what I do and have fun playing the game. I feel that’s what my calling is.”

Garrett earned his lone career save last season vs. the Pirates on Sept. 15, when Iglesias and Archie Bradley were not available. Bradley was non-tendered earlier this month.

“That time, I was out for a little bit with discomfort. I wasn’t even at my best that time, and I got that save. Imagine me at my best,” Garrett said. “That one [save], I tell everybody it’s like dunking. After my first dunk [in eighth-grade basketball], I was able to do any dunk. I was able to dunk at any point in time. It’s just like a domino effect.”

Garrett, who joined Nationals player and Cincinnati native Josh Harrison on Zoom on Tuesday to promote The Players Alliance Pull Up Neighbor Tour, did not express concern about the recent subtractions the club made to reduce payroll.

“When I come into Spring Training, I’m just going to try and elevate my teammates and everything,” Garrett said. “We’re going to focus on what we can control. At the end of the day, we can’t control who is traded or who comes in and who goes out.

“Losing Iglesias, that one was tough. And Archie and Curt [Casali]. We’re going to have to find a way to replace those players, right? We’re going to have to go out there and compete.”