Braxton Garrett added a new pitch. Its impact was on display as Marlins shut out Giants
Braxton Garrett took a gamble on himself as he decided a couple starts ago to tinker with his arsenal. The Miami Marlins’ left-handed pitcher ditched his four-seam fastball in favor of a cutter, a pitch he was still tinkering with but knew had the potential to be a difference maker.
So far, the bet has paid off.
And it helped lead to his best start of the season on Saturday.
Garrett tossed 6 1/3 shutout innings, struck out eight and gave up just one hit and one walk in the Marlins’ 1-0 win over the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park. It was Miami’s second shutout win of the season.
The 25-year-old was precise and efficient on Saturday, with 57 of his 76 pitches landing for strikes, and his new pitch has benefited his arsenal greatly.
Over his last three starts, Garrett has thrown the cutter 74 times. Opponents have taken 41 swings against the pitch and missed 14 times — a 34.1-percent whiff rate — in that span.
It plays nicely with Garrett’s slider, his primary putaway pitch that resulted in six of his eight strikeouts on Saturday and 28 of his 44 strikeouts overall this season.
“I was throwing a four-seam [fastball] for a long time,” Garrett said. “I’ve always tried to get that thing on guys’ hands but it became where it was just coming back arm side just a tad. I wanted my four-seam to stay truer or have some natural cut. We just had a conversation, I changed the grip and when I’m able to get guys’ hands in, I can get sliders under and get the sinker back out. It just complements everything.”
That was evident on Saturday. Garrett allowed just two baserunners — a leadoff single in the first to Thiaro Estrada and a second-inning walk to Lamonte Wade Jr. After that, Garrett retired the final 15 batters he faced before being taken out with one out in the seventh inning. Garrett threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of the 21 batters he faced.
“He was pretty effective and just commanding the zone,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “He checked every box.”
And the Marlins (24-22) finally provided him with a run of support after he left the mound.
Jon Berti’s eighth-inning single to right field scored Garrett Hampson, who walked and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, to plate the only run of the game. Miami is now 15-2 in one-run games.
JT Chargois (2/3 inning), Tanner Scott (2/3 inning) and Dylan Floro (1 1/3 innings) provided 2 2/3 shutout innings out of the bullpen, with Floro picking up his fifth save of the season.
Schumaker said taking Garrett out in the seventh was “probably the toughest pull that I’ve had to do so far in my young career.”
“He was just dominating,” Schumaker said, “but I felt like we had some back-end guys that could take over that game. We trust them. Brax did plenty for us to win. He did his job.”