Welcome to Kings of Kauffman's Player Projections series for 2023. We'll be analyzing how various Royals performed last season and predicting how they might fare this year. First up is relief pitcher Amir Garrett.
Needing to shore up their bullpen, the KC Royals traded starter Mike Minor to Cincinnati for reliever Amir Garrett not long after the MLB lockout ended last March. Minor spent over two months on the Injured List, won only four games for the Reds, became a free agent after the season, and remains unsigned.
Garrett, on the other hand, is among seven arbitration-eligible Royals with whom the club recently agreed to 2023 contract terms and, barring an unforeseen trade, will open the season in the bullpen. Whether he'll improve in two critical areas will determine how much work new KC manager Matt Quatraro gives him.
Former manager Mike Matheny used Garrett 60 times last year; the lefthander went 3-1 with a 9.73 K/9, a mark slightly below his career 10.4, but still good. Unfortunately, his ERA was 4.96, much too high for a reliever, and his 6.35 BB/9 reflects the control problems he's battled since breaking into the majors in 2017.
And it's in those latter two areas he needs to get better. Much better.
How FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference project Amir Garrett's KC Royals season.
FanGraphs (Depth Charts version) predicts Garrett will pitch 64 times this season, win three and lose three, post a 9.17 K/9 and 4.77 BB/9, and improve his ERA to 4.05.
Baseball-Reference projects a 3-3, 4.50 record for Garrett and believes he'll strike out more (9.5) and issue fewer walks (4.3) per nine innings than does FanGraphs.
How will reliever Amir Garrett actually perform for the KC Royals in 2023?
The Royals will be more pleased with Garrett if he matches or betters Baseball-Reference's strikeout and walk projections. Its bases on balls prediction beats his career 5.08 BB/9 and, although fanning 9.5 batters per nine frames won't equal his career 10.41 K/9, Baseball-Reference's rate is still excellent.
If Garrett's past is his prologue, though, expect him to be better in one respect and worse in the other when it comes to FanGraphs' and Baseball-Reference's projections. His strikeout rate didn't reach double digits for only the second time in his six-year career last year, and he's posted two K/9s of 12 or better. He should get back to at least 10 this season.
Walks will likely be a different matter. While FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference both foresee a Garrett BB/9 of less than five, he's managed to achieve such a rate only twice before, has been as high as 6.35 (2022) and exceeded 5.0 three other times.
And ERA? Garrett's best was the 2.45 he posted in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season; he's been under 4.00 only one other time.
Considering his consistency, look for Garrett to collect a lot of strikeouts, issue too many walks, and surrender more runs than a reliever should in 2023. Garrett winning three or four games with a 4.50 ERA, 10.5 K/9, and 4.75-5.00 BB/9 won't be surprising.
Also don't be shocked if he fails to last the year with the Royals. Because he's eligible for free agency after the season, the club is likely to entertain offers for him as the trade deadline nears.
Amir Garrett needs to improve for the Royals in 2023. But it might not happen.