Grading the 2022 KC Royals: Reliever Amir Garrett

(Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images) /

Soon after the MLB lockout officially ended March 10, the KC Royals began making moves. They issued a slew of spring training invitations to promising non-roster players, including Bobby Witt Jr. and Vinnie Pasquantino, who ultimately had exciting rookie seasons, and signed a few little-known free agents.

Not until six days later, though, did the club add big league veterans to a team whose 74-88 record the season before spawned some hope of better things to come in 2022. March 16 was the day the Royals sealed their reunion deal with Zack Greinke and traded starter Mike Minor to Cincinnati for reliever Amir Garrett.

Despite going an unspectacular 4-9, a record the Royals probably didn’t expect, Greinke pitched well consistently and his 3.68 ERA suggests he has enough left to handle a 20th major league season. Whether he’ll return to Kansas City if he doesn’t retire remains to be seen.

Garrett, on the other hand, gave the Royals precisely what they should have expected—a lot of strikeouts, a lot of walks, and a lot of flare on the mound.

KC Royals reliever Amir Garrett’s 2022 performance wasn’t at all surprising.

Garrett’s pitching propensities were obvious before he arrived at Kansas City’s Arizona spring training complex. He brought a pedestrian five-season 10-17 record and too-high career 5.10 ERA with him, numbers consistent with single-season ERAs as high as 7.39 (2017) and as low as 2.45 (2020).

It was his ability to pile up strikeouts that impressed. Only in his rookie season of 2017 had Garrett failed to achieve a double-digit K/9, and he’d posted a 12.54 in 2019, 12.76 in 2020, and 11.52 in 2021.

But control was his nemesis. His BB/9 had never been below 3.44 and even exceeded 5.0 three times, including 5.63 in 2019.

Garrett went 3-1 for the Royals this season and kept his ERA below 5.0 (4.96, to be precise, but still excessive for a reliever). He fanned almost 10 per nine innings (9.73 K/9) and allowed only seven of 42 runs he inherited to score. His competitiveness, energy and flare made him fun to watch.

But, as always, he walked far too many batters, issuing 32 bases on balls, none of them intentional, in 45.1 innings for a career-worst 6.35 BB/9.

All in all, Garrett’s 2022 performance was, considering what he’d done before leaving Cincinnati for Kansas City, par for him.

We’ll give him a C. But it’s the kind of grade he can improve if his control gets better.

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Amir Garrett performed as expected in 2022.