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Efficiency evades Reid-Foley in loss to Rangers

@KeeganMatheson
August 14, 2019

TORONTO -- Sean Reid-Foley has long had the raw stuff to make it work at the Major League level. Now, like many of the young Blue Jays’ arms vying for rotation spots in 2019 and beyond, it’s about putting it all together and clearing those final hurdles. For Reid-Foley, that

TORONTO -- Sean Reid-Foley has long had the raw stuff to make it work at the Major League level. Now, like many of the young Blue Jays’ arms vying for rotation spots in 2019 and beyond, it’s about putting it all together and clearing those final hurdles.

For Reid-Foley, that means controlling the strike zone which, in turn, would result in a more efficient approach. The young right-hander lasted just 3 1/3 innings on 88 pitches in Wednesday’s 7-3 loss to the Rangers at Rogers Centre, allowing three runs on four hits and three walks while striking out three.

Box score

For the fans of nice, round numbers, that leaves Reid-Foley with a 3.00 ERA over 30 innings in the big leagues this season, which is a notable improvement from his 6.26 ERA in Triple-A Buffalo (82 IP). Walks remain an issue, though, with 19 over those 30 innings with the Blue Jays. For an ERA near 3.00 to be sustainable, that will need to change.

“He threw more strikes today, [but] he needs to put people away,” said manager Charlie Montoyo. “They kept fouling balls off and that got his pitch count high. [Pitching coach] Pete [Walker] and [bullpen coach] Matt Buschmann have been working with him on that, so at the end of the day it’s up to the kid.”

Reid-Foley has been able to get himself into two-strike counts -- including on two of his walks Wednesday -- and produced some off-balance swings along the way. The Rangers fouled off 25 of Reid-Foley’s 88 pitches, including 11 of his 33 sliders, which means that the 23-year-old is walking a fine line. Viewed through an optimistic lens, though, he isn’t that far from getting the swings and misses that he needs.

That’s partly because, when Reid-Foiey actually wanted to pitch outside of the zone and look for that swinging strike, he ended up finding the zone anyways.

“I just couldn’t throw anything in dirt,” Reid-Foley said, “and then whenever we’d try to elevate on a fastball, it seemed like it would be right at the belt. It’s just something you work on in sides, trying to throw breaking balls in the dirt, changeups in the dirt and heaters up. It’s kind of basic things. Get ahead and put them away, that type of thing. Now you’ve just got to harp it.”

Beyond the pitch locations, you can also look at Reid-Foley’s velocity, which dipped just a bit below average on Wednesday. After averaging 93.7 mph on his fastball in 2018 and 92.6 mph this season, Reid-Foley averaged just 91.6 mph against the Rangers. That isn’t enough of a dip to consider it anything other than a natural game-to-game fluctuation, but a look back at his better outings earlier in the year suggest that a small uptick would benefit him.

“When you come out, give up three runs and you go three and a third, it could have been a lot worse,” Reid-Foley said. “It could have snowballed on me. Move forward and get ready for the next one in L.A.”

The model for Reid-Foley might still be his July 2 outing at home against the Boston Red Sox, where he followed Trent Thornton with 3 1/3 innings of hitless, walk-free pitching. With his fastball averaging nearly two mph faster that day (93.7 mph) than it did Wednesday, Reid-Foley forced 10 swinging strikes on 44 pitches with just seven fouled off.

Keegan Matheson is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter @KeeganMatheson.