Is it possible that Cody Reed is past his early career lumps and that Monday was just the first step in the right direction?
Reed tossed a strong and confident six innings on Monday night against the Cardinals, despite losing his first career win by a bullpen implosion with two outs in the ninth.
Sure, he saw some trouble in each inning with base runners. However, most importantly, none of them crossed the plate.
He avoided being beaten like a pinata and continuing the merry-go-round that he has allowed on the base paths this season so far.
It would be easy to take this in stride and say that Reed is turning the corner, just because it was his first semblance of positive.
However, Reed showed some signs of doing more than just throwing on Monday. He was even, dare I say, pitching at times.
Reed was able to move the ball around, mix his pitch sequences, and change speeds like he has been unable to in many of his big league starts thus far.
A lot was made of getting first-pitch strikes by the Fox Sports broadcast team, which he did get 17-of-23 times in the game. While that is a key, the reasons behind it are what ultimately allows Reed to be more open with his pitch sequences. When he gets ahead in the count, he can use his off pitches a lot more and waste a ball if needed. When he is behind, he get a lot more reliant on his fastball.
To no surprise, coming into the game, the league was hitting .357 off Reed’s fastball this season. He has been forced to use it constantly. Hitters knew it was coming, and they mashed it. Of the 11 home runs allowed by Reed, 10 of them were on the fastball in 2016.
In contrast, hitters are batting just .115 on the 126 change ups that Reed threw coming into Monday night. While they are still hitting his slider well, he has gotten a lot more movement on the pitch his last two starts. It is improving and was a weapon on Monday as well.
More importantly than the type of pitch, was location on Monday night. Reed was pounding the bottom half of the zone. He was not afraid to go inside. He was painting the corners. He was simply locating rather than just throwing strikes. The results followed as well, with Reed picking up 10 ground ball outs for the game. Hitters were being fooled or unable to lift the ball, rather than just teeing off.
He was also able to get over his first inning jitters. Reed has been noticeably nervous in his other outings and moving way too fast, which was not the case on Monday night. He was in a rhythm from the offset.
Coming into the start, Reed had posted a a 14.62 ERA in the first inning. In each inning after, that droped. In the second it was 6.75, and then down to 4.50 in the third, and 3.38 in the fourth. As he settles in and gets past the nerves, he improves. Maybe the positive start on Monday night will help him get past the nerves overall and pay off for the Reds sticking with him through the tough times.
While it is clear that there will be optimism about Reed just because of the overall results, what drove the results calls for even more optimism.
Monday night was a giant step for Reed in his big league career. Only time will tell if he takes that into his next start in five days.