Closer Addison Reed pitched the final inning in Saturday’s 4-3 win over Seattle, and now has three saves in as many chances. Reed has appeared in three games and has yet to surrender a run or a hit. He has walked just one batter and has three strikeouts on the young season. Reed was one of my breakout players prior to the 2013 season, and if he can continue to pitch like he has, then the White Sox bullpen should prove to be very strong. While it has only been three games, Reed’s plan for attacking hitters has been even more impressive than his results.
Here is why I think Reed’s success will continue.
First, Reed appears to using his slider much more often early on this season than it was used last season. With a fastball that usually sits at 93-94 mph, Reed doesn’t possess the sheer velocity required to heavily rely on his fastball. In order to keep hitters off-balance, Reed must use his off-speed pitches more often. This will allow him to “sneak” his fastball by hitters when they have to account for a possibility of a slider being thrown.
Second, Reed’s location and command has been spot on. A big part of Reed’s problems last season resulted in leaving his fastball over the middle of the plate and hanging his slider. After three games, it looks like Reed has focused on eliminating those mistakes. In particular, I have noticed that Reed has been missing high in the strike zone with his fastball and missing low in the zone with his slider. Obviously, the White Sox would like for Reed to be able to throw his pitches for strikes more often than not. However, if he is going to miss with his pitches, it is always better to miss low with off-speed stuff and high with the fastball. Those kinds of location with his fastball and slider will likely lead to weaker contact and generate more swing-and-misses.
Reed still has a long way to go to become a dominant closer, but if he can continue to do what he has done early on this season, then he should be on his way to having a huge year.
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