Ah, that dreaded vote of confidence.
That was the expression coming from Diamondbacks’ manager Kirk Gibson on Wednesday morning during his pre-game media session.
The topic at hand was the future, stature and status of Arizona closer Addison Reed. Having experienced his fifth blown save Tuesday night, Reed’s history with the Diamondbacks seems all too consistent. Sure, his 20 saves to date are among leaders in the National League but the way he has compromised games seems a pressing question.
At this point, Gibson could turn to Brad Ziegler, who closed over the second half of last season. Reed is signed through this season and will make, according to Baseball Reference.com $538,500. Like several others on this woefully underachieving team, he could see a revolving door after the season. Reed does not become an unrestricted free agent until 2018.
For now, Reed remains Gibson’s closer of choice and the manager was emphatic with that declaration.
“(Reed) struggled (Monday night) and in a game like that, it should not have come down to the him,” Gibson said. “But, he has to be more consistent.”
“The game” Gibson referenced appeared to be an indictment against his offense. In the 2-1 loss to the Marlins Tuesday night, the Diamondbacks left 11 runners on bases and went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
Still, Reed entered a one-run game and closers are supposed to slam the door.
In Tuesday night’s game, Reed became his own worst enemy.
Starting the Miami ninth by walking Ed Lucas, he managed the get the next two hitters but grooved a fastball to Marcell Ozuna, who hammered the pitch over the yellow, centerfield line for his 15th home run of the season and extended his hitting streak to 14 games.
Catcher Tuffy Gosewisch called for a pitch down and away and, according to Gibson, Reed’s delivery missed by “a good 18 to 20 inches.” That put the pitch squarely over the plate and Ozuna, regarded as a very good fast hitter, made no mistake.
“(Reed’s) has struggled this season, corrected a few things but we continue to ask ‘why is this happening,’ ” Gibson went on. “Look, he doesn’t have a lot of experience so what he’s going through is a learning process.”
The issue with Reed is lack of an adequate secondary pitch. Because his fast ball travels in the low to mid-90s, his off-pitch is the slider. Since Reed has essentially unable to throw the slider for strikes and where he wants, his reliance on the fast ball has been deadly.
As a closer, Reed, coming into Wednesday’s afternoon game with Miami, is 1-5 with a 4.42 ERA. Equally distributing, Reed has surrendered nine home runs in 36.2 innings. Add nine walks with those 36.2 innings and that’s like pouring gasoline on a fire.
That also includes yielding 36 hits in those innings. A reliable frame of reference usually has a pitcher allowing less than one hit per inning pitched.
“No closer wants to walk the lead-off hitter,” said Gibson, citing the obvious. “(Reed) knows he has to work on some things.”
With one-half the season already in the books and nearly three months remaining, it would appear Reed’s learning curve should have been addressed and reduced some time ago.