MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Difference maker. Big-league slider. Impressive. One of the best relievers in the country.
Those have been just some of the ways West Virginia closer Carlson Reed has been described this season. The lanky junior fireballer emerged from the Mountaineer bullpen with his team clinging to a two-run lead against the Big 12 Conference’s most potent offense on Sunday.
What Reed proceeded to do over his two innings on the bump typified his season: 2.0 innings, zero runs, zero hits, and four strikeouts. The opposing lineup shut down, the game and series won.
“We pretty much think the game’s over [when he comes in]. We kind of have to lock back in, and make sure we make plays,” JJ Wetherholt said Sunday. “The whole team just has an absurd amount of confidence behind that guy. He’s ridiculous.”
With Reed’s latest performance, his ERA is now a minuscule 1.13 this season.
Across 32 innings pitched and 21 appearances, the junior right-hander has given up just seven total runs, only four of which were earned. He has allowed well under one hit per inning, and has recorded more than 1.5 strikeouts per frame. His 51 punchouts are the third-most on the WVU pitching staff and easily the most among any of the team’s pitchers who haven’t started a game this season.
“He’s got big-league stuff,” added Wetherholt. “I told him earlier I don’t think there’s a single guy on the planet you couldn’t strike out. He’s just that good. He’s the difference maker. Usually when we’re up by any lead — I don’t care if it’s one run, two, three, whatever it is — if he comes in the game, I’m like yeah, this is it, it’s over.”
Reed’s seven saves this year are the third-most in the Big 12 Conference. Three of his saves have come against conference competition. All but two of his saves have come in the last month, as WVU’s schedule has gotten more difficult, and the games have become more meaningful.
The midseason addition to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List was flattered by his teammate’s compliment.
“You see that guy, and what he’s done this year, it’s unbelievable, actually,” said Reed. “Every time it’s in a tough spot this year, we just know he’s going to do something well. Having that come from him means a lot.”
Reed expertly worked around a pair of walks and a defensive miscue behind him during his save on Sunday. Skipper Randy Mazey noted that he, naturally, wanted Reed to face as little of the heart of Texas Tech’s lineup as possible.
As he has over and over again this season, Reed rose to the occasion when the Red Raiders’ top hitters dug in.
“Because it was the middle of the lineup, he got better against their better hitters,” said Mazey. “He was really good. That’s what makes him one of the best relievers in the country.”
West Virginia is a perfect 15-0 this season when Reed enters the game with a lead. That includes games that were well in hand, in addition to four multi-inning saves.
Opposing hitters are batting just .198 against Reed, exactly 100 points lower than batters hit against him last year.
Reed hit a team-best 97.3 miles per hour on the radar gun against Texas Tech, the third time he has reached 97 mph on his top pitch this season.