Suter aims to be best teammate on and off field

April 14th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Mark Sheldon’s Reds Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

CHICAGO -- The way veteran Reds reliever sees it, the best way he can be a good teammate is to always be available -- both on the mound and to others inside the clubhouse.

This season, Suter has checked both boxes. On the field through 14 games, he has made a team-high seven appearances and leads Cincinnati relievers with 10 1/3 innings. He's on pace to pitch 81 games in 2024.

"I look at my job and what I bring to the team is availability, and the ability to go multiple innings ... just cover innings for the guys," said Suter, who has a 3.48 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. "If I’m not called upon that day and it doesn’t match up to be in the high-leverage innings, I want to be able to cover all the innings so that the high-leverage guys either get a day off or less outs to cover."

In four of his appearances, Suter has pitched two or more innings.

“You take the weight off everybody else if you’re available," Suter said before he pitched two scoreless innings during Saturday's 5-0 win over the White Sox. "It helps everybody, mentally and physically, with less shouldering of the load.”

How does a 34-year-old pitcher stay so durable?

“I’ve learned over the years what I need to do -- routine-wise, sleep-wise, nutrition and stuff to help recover," Suter said.

On April 7 vs. the Mets, Suter simultaneously covered three innings and helped a fallen teammate. The lefty replaced Tejay Antone after he suffered a season-ending right elbow injury -- the third of his career.

A crestfallen Antone was in the training room crying when Suter walked in. He gave him a hug and sat with him.

“That’s a top-two teammate and he ain’t No. 2. Incredible teammate," said Antone, who had surgery to repair tears in his flexor mass tendon and ulnar collateral ligament on Friday.

Suter left the room, got locked back in and returned to the mound to pitch his third straight scoreless inning.

“I thought he was done. I didn’t realize he was going out for another inning," Antone said. “He cares. He has a really good character.”

“I see it as both a human being duty and teammate duty to be there for people at the highs, the lows and everywhere in between," Suter said. "Being there, being a friend, being a good teammate is one of the most important things we can learn in this life. It really comes down to love, loving others and putting others before yourself. I think that’s a huge thing I strive for every day.”

Suter has been that way his whole career in the Major Leagues -- including his one season with the Rockies in 2023 and seven seasons with the Brewers from 2016-22.

"In one year, he became one of my favorite players I've ever had," Rockies manager Bud Black said during Spring Training. "What I loved was his team-first attitude. Just a lot of great qualities on the teammate side that I thought were really impressive. ... On the pitching side, I saw him for a number of years from the other side and was always impressed with a few things. ... He's got the versatility to really be advantageous for a manager.”

“That's a one of a kind, a beautiful spirit and a special human being," said Brewers manager Pat Murphy, who was a coach during Suter's time in Milwaukee.

Of course, Suter grew up in Cincinnati and attended Archbishop Moeller High School, and he achieved a personal dream to play with his hometown Reds. In January, he signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract that included a $3.5 million club option for the 2025 season ($500,000 buyout).

Pitching at home has exceeded Suter's expectations.

"Players, staff, front office -- everybody has been even better than I was hoping for," he said. "... The ability to play at home, see my kids, drop my son off at school and go to work has been amazing. My family and friends have been really great about seeing me but giving me space at the same time. It’s been a good balance so far.”