‘Impressive’ Reed Garrett ‘coming up huge’ for Mets bullpen

In order for the Mets batters to put together late-game comebacks, it is going to come down to the starters and, more crucially, the bullpen to keep them in games long enough to score the counterpunch they need.

On Tuesday night, it was starter Jose Quintana, gutting through five innings while not having his best command, and reliever Reed Garrett combining to keep the deficit to just 1-0 before a three-run seventh inning set up New York for yet another comeback win.

“This is a great group of guys and we’ve seen it night in and night out,” Garrett said after the 3-1 win. “Not every night we jump out to a huge lead, but we fight and claw and really everybody puts in the best effort to give ourselves the best chance to win.”

In the sixth, Garrett needed just 11 pitches to strike out the side swinging, getting six whiffs and a called strike in the process. In the seventh, the right-hander allowed a walk and an infield hit – and put runners on the corners with a throwing error to boot – but still struck out the side.

His manager called his start to the season – in which he has struck out 17 of 31 batters faced –  “huge.”

“This is a guy that gives you multiple innings, but the quality, you know?” Carlos Mendoza said. “He’s shown that he gets righties [and] lefties. The split, the slider, the fastball – it’s been pretty impressive.”

Garrett, 31, believes his stuff is better than it has in the past after working really hard this offseason and challenging himself to fine-tune everything and “the results are there.” And on the night, he tallied nine whiffs (on 15 swings) and six called strikes out of 31 pitches.

When asked about what he’s seen from Garrett’s splitter and slider this season, Mendoza chuckled and said, “They’re pretty nasty.”

“When you see replays and how guys are taking swings on it, it makes you think like, ‘wow,’” he said. “It’s a plus fastball but then you got that combo of split and sliders and he makes it tough. It’s good to see it.”

Garrett believes his success to start the season comes from “being aggressive and challenging guys in the zone.”

“I think that when you get ahead it’s a whole lot easier pitch than if you’re going 2-0, 2-1 to everybody,” he continued. “And right now I think we’re doing a great job of utilizing all my pitches and going after guys.”

That aggressiveness is something Mendoza said is part of the bullpen’s mentality.

“The mentality is go get three outs,” he said. “And I know it’s easy for me to sit here and say it. But that’s been the message here, it doesn’t matter if you’re coming in down seven, up eight, up one, tie game, ninth inning, your job is to go out there and get three outs. Attack hitters and we’re seeing that. And that’s important.”

The first-year manager admitted Tuesday he didn’t know much about Garrett entering spring training, including that he had an upper 90s fastball “in the tank” until his first outing.

“But then you start seeing the secondary pitches and then you’re like ‘Ok, we got something here,’" Mendoza said. “And we kept talking about the depth and… you know that potentially this is a guy is gonna start the year in Triple-A. And here he is now early and getting opportunities and coming up huge.”

Garrett – along with Jorge Lopez and Drew Smith – combined to allow just three base runners in the game's final four frames and tallied nine strikeouts to slam the door on the Pirates.

For the Mets, it meant four straight wins taking them above .500 for the first time this season. And maybe, they might just "have something here" indeed.