CHICAGO -- The White Sox's lost season has had a few positive twists despite the disappointment of one of the worst records in baseball. The ascension of closer Addison Reed toward elite status has gone under the radar for most of the season.
Reed has 66 saves since the beginning of 2012, which ranks him fourth in the American League behind Jim Johnson, Fernando Rodney and Joe Nathan. His save-percentage success ratio is near the top of the statistical leaders at 86.8.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura believes Reed is getting close to being mentioned with the best closers in the game.
“He is adding another pitch,” Ventura said. “He had been surviving mostly with a fastball and slider. He has started to use a changeup that has gotten better. Just the feel for having more than one thing is important.”
Reed, who took over the closers role in early 2012, has been tested this year both physically and mentally. During one stretch between July 16-22 he saved six straight games, setting a White Sox record. He was the first major league pitcher to accomplish that feat in 10 years. Eric Gagne did it in 2003.
Some people questioned the decision to use Reed in that capacity, but Reed looked at the opportunity to challenge himself beyond where he had gone before.
“What separates those guys from others is that they don’t give in,” Ventura said. “What I mean by that is they will throw any pitch at any time. If they do get roughed up they come back the next day as tough as they ever were. The closer’s role is such a tough job, in most cases it is instant success or failure. Their job consists of a lot of high-stress situations. It is not for everybody.”
Reed has saved 65 percent of the White Sox’s 58 wins, an exceptionally high ratio compared to the rest of the league’s closers, who are all near the 50 percent mark.
“I still believe I can improve every year and stay strong,” Reed said. “Unless I go perfect in saves and don’t allow a hit all year, I will feel the need to work harder and get better.”
The 24-year-old has grown by using all of his pitches in 2013, and learning how to accept failure has been a big part of the maturation process for the young pitcher.
“I have gotten a lot better this year learning how to let go of a loss or a blown save,” Reed said. “If you are going to stay in this role you learn how to let it go after the game. Obviously I am upset but you do understand that if you were prepared and got beat, the next day’s preparation is more important than letting the loss fester.”
Being the last line between a win or a loss would be too much for many relievers to handle on a daily basis. Reed looks forward to that challenge every day.
“That is the position I want to be in,” he said. “This is the job I always dreamed of doing since I was a little kid. I know a lot of good and bad comes with it, I embrace the challenge and opportunity. I hope I can do this the rest of my career.”