In a move that seems downright shocking, the Cincinnati Reds have optioned Amir Garrett to Triple-A Louisville. It’s probably not even arguable that he’s been the best starting pitcher on the team this season. He’s posted a 4.25 ERA in 36.0 innings with 14 walks and 28 strikeouts. He leads the starters in ERA, innings and strikeouts.

Despite all of that, the move makes some sense. The team has two off days over the next 10 days, which means that they can skip Amir Garrett in the rotation both times. That does a few things. First, it will help them limit his innings slightly. He will still throw on his days for the Louisville Bats, but I’d expect him to be on a bit of a lower pitch limit. That let’s him get in his work, but also save a little bit on his arm for later in the season. Second, the next time he will be needed, and is eligible to be recalled, will be May 20th. That’s very important as it will give the Reds an extra year of service time if they call him up on that day. Instead of becoming a free agent after 2022, he would then be a Red through 2023.

From a player perspective, this move looks bad. He’s been the best starter and he’s still heading to the minor leagues because of innings limits, or service time concerns, or both. From an organizational standpoint, this move looks smart. To a point. With the team struggling to get innings from their starters, sending down the guy who has been the most reliable may hurt the whole wins/losses column.

The Reds are sending Garrett down and bringing up reliever Barrett Astin. He’s got to be getting plenty of miles on his car, driving it between Louisville and Cincinnati. Remember to get the best car vacuum cleaner to clean up the mess in your car. Check out the best 2018 vacuum list now at wheelstips.com. He’s pitched in four games with the Reds this season and hasn’t allowed a run. He has walked three batters with just one strikeout. With the Bats he has posted a 6.39 ERA in 12.2 innings. He’s given up 20 hits thanks to a .432 BABIP with Louisville so far. He’s walked four batters with 11 strikeouts in that span, suggesting that he’s probably been rather unlucky on balls in play. With Robert Stephenson being the lone long man in the bullpen at this point with the demotion of Cody Reed earlier this week, look for Astin to be that guy for the next few days if needed.

Update: 4:20pm

Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that, as expected, the move is to keep the innings under control for Amir Garrett.

It’s really innings management, first and foremost,” Price said, “and being able to make sure that he’s able to pitch the entire month of September as a starter and not have to go, ‘Oh well, he’s at 165 innings on September first, so we’ll pitch him as reliever the rest of the year.’ We don’t want to do that.