D-backs sticking with Reed through rough patch as closer

Addison Reed has blown five saves and given up nine home runs, tied for the most in the majors by any relief pitcher.

Mark J. Rebilas/Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX — After half a season of late-inning struggles in 2013, the Diamondbacks changed closers just about at this point.

D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said he has not even considered a similar move this time around.

Addison Reed was acquired to be the closer and will remain in place, Gibson said Wednesday, even as Reed has hit a rough patch in the last two weeks.

"We’re staying with Addison," Gibson said.

Other options?

"I haven’t thought about it," Gibson said. "I mean, we are not there at all."

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Reed has converted 20 of his 25 save opportunities this season, although he is only two for his last five after giving up a two-out, two-run home run to Marcell Ozuna in the ninth inning of a 2-1 loss to Miami on Tuesday. Reed has given up nine homers, tied with Ernesto Frieri for the most among major league relievers.

If the D-backs are not particularly concerned, neither is Reed.

Even as Reed recorded 69 saves in the last two years as the White Sox’s closer, he had stretches when his mechanics went slightly out of alignment. He believes he is in one of those phases now, and the D-backs will stick with him as he works through it.

Reed’s natural delivery is somewhat of a crossfire, where he throws across his body. The trouble comes when his weight drifts to the side instead of moving toward the plate during delivery. He knows it. The D-backs know it. He is working to correct it.

"I’m way across my body already, and sometimes I have a tendency to push off more towards our (third-base) dugout instead of bringing all my weight towards home plate," Reed said. 

"Rotating side-to-side instead of back-to-front. That’s the main thing. The way I step, it is almost natural to bring all your weight that way. It is something that’s definitely fixable. I’ve done it in the past. Things just kind of get out of whack every now and then. It is a work in progress, but I will continue to work on it."

Reed has a 1-5 record with a 4.42 ERA but is one of 10 NL closers with at least 20 saves.

The D-backs turned to Brad Ziegler the weekend before the All-Star break last season, after an injury to J.J. Putz and ineffectiveness by fillin Heath Bell dictated the move.

Ziegler was back in his normal setup role Wednesday, when he went two innings and threw a season-high 33 pitches. He gave up two runs in the 10th but was the beneficiary of a three-run rally in the bottom of the inning. The D-backs’ 4-3 victory improved his record to 4-1.

Reed’s fastball averages about 92.5 miles an hour this season, according to FanGraphs, about where it sat with the White Sox last season after being in the 94.5 range his first two seasons there. He has added a mile an hour to his slider this year.

"Sometimes I just get fastball happy and think I can get by with some well-located fastballs," Reed said. "The thing with me is, I’ve been getting hurt a lot of times leaving the ball up and over the middle of the plate instead of hitting the corners. Obviously I need to start throwing more sliders and start mixing it up a little more, and when I throw the fastball I need to locate where I am supposed to."

Tweaking his mechanics to get a more forward push also should cut down the number of homers, he believes.

"When I start rotating, my arms starts to drop a little bit," Reed said. "Even a half an inch can be the difference between a knee-high fastball and as thigh-high fastball. I think over time everything is going to come together and everything is going to be all right."

The D-backs seem to believe the same, Gibson saying it is all part of the growing process. Reed is 25.

"He is our closer. He’s capable of doing it," Gibson said. "He’s learned some lessons along the way. He’s really not that old. It’s not like he has years and years of experience.  It’s little subtle things. He’s been through it more than once this year. He’s been able to make adjustments, and he’ll have to make some more. It’s part of it. It should make him better.

"He threw probably his hardest when we were in Chicago in the beginning of May. Your mechanics change from time to time. Maybe that has something to do with it. Maybe he gets tired. Maybe his confidence, he’s not letting it go as he has in the past. It could be many different things. Structurally and physically he is fine."

Having Gibson’s backing "is awesome," Reed said.

"It’s the only position I want to be in," he continued. "I want to be in there in the ninth inning with the game on the line. Just to know he believes in me. I believe in myself."

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