In today’s Journal, you can read about Mississippi State junior relief pitcher Caleb Reed, who has become the ace of the Bulldogs’ bullpen. He’s got six saves and a 0.88 ERA heading into this weekend’s series with No. 2 South Carolina.
Coach John Cohen didn’t necessarily see this coming from Reed, who was part of Ron Polk‘s last recruiting class. He did not impress Cohen at first, but he worked hard between his freshman and sophomore years to get in shape.
“When Caleb got in, he doesn’t look like an SEC guy,” Cohen said, “and what he did was bit by bit, we told him immediately, ‘You’re body’s going to have to change to compete in this league.’ And you say that a lot, but when he rolled in as a sophomore, his body was completely different. You could tell that he had just dedicated an entire summer to, hey, I’m going to show these guys how serious I am about this.'”
What Reed has done thus far is a bit unusual. Most closers come in for one, maybe two innings. On Sunday against Arkansas, Reed threw the final 5.1 innings and didn’t allow a run.
“(Sunday) we had a lead, I came in in the fourth, but I still had that same mentality that we have a lead, and I’m going to finish this game off,” he said.
One key to Reed’s success is his ability to drop down to a sidearm delivery, where he’ll usually release a fastball or a slider.
“I have a good out pitch from down there, and I have a good out pitch from over the top. I try to keep people honest by doing both,” he said.
Reed said this is easily the best he’s ever pitched while at MSU, and the stats bear that out. He’s now one of the top relievers in the SEC, but Cohen also loves him for his leadership and the way he carries himself.
So it’s little surprise that Reed deflects credit to others.
“The big key to it is our defense has been outstanding behind me. (Sunday) they made a great amount of good plays behind me. The catchers, Wes Thigpen and Cody (Freeman), and coach (Butch) Thompson, they’re doing a great job calling pitches, and calling pitches at the right time. We’ve put in a lot of hard work coming up to this year and throwing strikes.”