In a close game this weekend, John Cohen knows exactly who to turn to in the bullpen for the final outs of a victory.
Just like the beginning of the 2011 season, during their four-game stretch this weekend at Dudy Noble Field, Mississippi State’s third-year head coach says he will hand the baseball to junior Caleb Reed.
“We're going to go to Caleb Reed every time, there's no doubt in our mind,” Cohen said. “The amount of work he’s put into throwing strikes and just being our most consistent pitcher out of the bullpen has been amazing.”
The submarine-style pitcher, that can also trick hitters this year by throwing at the ¾ angle and over the top, has inherited the closer role for the 2011 Mississippi State baseball team and has no plans to let it go anytime soon.
“The way I like to compete and just the way I am, if it’s at the end of a game and it’s going to be lost or won right then - I want the ball in my hands,” Reed said.
The junior right-hander has already earned two saves this season after recording 67 innings last year coming out of the bullpen and debuting his underhand motion that’s allowed him to increase his durability on the mound.
“The cool thing about dropping down is it takes all the arm pressure anywhere away and it's kind of like a softball pitcher - they can throw every day they want to,” Reed said.
Reed attempted that arm slot that requires extreme flexibility mostly in the back.
The ability to be used every day could be crucial as the Bulldogs (8-1) enter a six games in six days stretch that begins today with a 2:30 contest against Iowa and includes a scheduled Saturday doubleheader that will start at noon against Georgia State.
“We have a lot of arms that need to throw and it’s hard to be sharp when you don’t pitch,” Cohen said. “They need the work. We have three guys throwing in the outfield after the (win against Alcorn State Tuesday) because we didn’t get them in the ball game.”
Reed has five shutout innings in 2011 with eight strikeouts and no walks this season.
“I feel like I'm pitching to a guy that has wood bats now,” Reed said. “When you score two runs now, it's like scoring four runs before, just like with wood. It's just so hard to manufacture runs. That's why walks are so important now because I can't help anybody get on base to produce runs."
The numbers for the 190-pound right-hander are somewhat impressive for a guy that doesn’t exactly light up a radar gun.
Reed discussed the difference in his mentality this season knowing the ninth inning is his territory compared to being a middle-inning reliever that may have to run down to the bullpen at a moments notice.
“That's the thing – I came out of the pen a lot last year but earning that closer role means you're mentally ready to know exactly when you're going to come in,” Reed said. “You don't ever have to guess when you're going into a ball game and I like that.”
Reed was one of the many Bulldogs pitchers last season that suffered through a disastrous Southeastern Conference season where they all had earned run averages over 5.00 and he’s noticed in the clubhouse that getting beat around as freshmen and sophomores has rallied this group of MSU pitchers.
“Everybody in that clubhouse has been together at least two years if not three years and we just gelled real quick,” Reed said. “That's why we're here - I mean, college baseball is supposed to be fun isn't it?"