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White Sox Tue Apr 30 2013

Addison Reed Has Been White Sox's Saving Grace

Sox_200.pngThis has been a rough season so far for the White Sox. The team is 10-14, and it's been suffering from a lack of offensive production that the starting pitching and bullpen can't make up for. But, if the offense does get that lead, and the pitching is able to hold it, Addison Reed has been there to finish the job in the ninth.

It's odd to praise the bullpen a few days after the Sox blew a game against the Rays, but Reed is having a strong 2013. Through 11 appearances (11 innings total), Reed has allowed only two runs and four walks to 12 strikeouts, to the tune of a 1.64 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP.

Reed is hitting all the checkmarks on the list of things you want from your closer:

• He's not letting batters get on base. The WHIP tells that story, and he's had four 1-2-3 innings, and four times only one runner reached base. He's let the leadoff man get on only twice.

• He's striking out batters. Reed has gotten at least one punchout in eight games, and two Ks in four of them. Strikeouts means the ball isn't being put in play, which means that dink singles aren't falling in and liners aren't reaching the gaps.

• He's getting in and out. Reed's thrown 15 or fewer pitches in eight appearances, so he's not getting behind in the count. He's only gotten to 3-2 six times (batters went 0-4 with two walks and a strikeout), and he's only gotten to 3-0 and 3-1 once each.

• He's not giving up the big hit. Of the seven hits given up, five were singles and two were doubles. No homers.

• He doesn't nibble the strikezone. He goes after lefties and he works righties low and away.

Reed has been doing this by mixing in more sliders, as he said he was going to do. Last year, Reed pitched fastballs nearly 75 percent of the time; this year he's goes fastball for roughly 60 percent of his pitches, throwing sliders for 44 percent of his total pitches to righty batters (26 percent to lefties). According to Brooks Baseball, he threw 129 sliders total in 2012; he's thrown 73 of them just in April of 2013.

He's making batters miss his slider and fastball, generating a higher percentage of "whiffs" in those categories. And this is coming with a decreased fastball velocity -- it was actually a tick faster last year. Of course, this isn't necessarily indicative of anything; just one would assume his fastball speed would be higher. He can probably get away with a (relatively) slower fastball with a very good secondary pitch.

Reed's new approach in his sophomore season has been successful, and with eight saves in eight opportunities, the Sox know if they can keep a late lead, Reed will take them home. Now the team's goal is to get Reed into that spot.

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