Reds: Relying more on his slider, Vladimir Gutierrez looks to stymie Tigers

CINCINNATI, OHIO - AUGUST 22: Vladimir Gutierrez #53 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - AUGUST 22: Vladimir Gutierrez #53 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

The Cincinnati Reds need a much better performance from Vladimir Gutierrez tonight than the one he served up during his previous outing against the Miami Marlins. Gutierrez was rocked for five runs on seven hits and lasted just three innings.

Gutierrez has been one of the biggest surprises one this year’s Cincinnati team. While most of the adulation among the first-year Reds falls to Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson, the performance that Gutierrez has turned in during the 2021 season has been exceptional.

Gutierrez is 9-5 on the season with a 4.03 ERA. One more victory will make Gutierrez the first Cincinnati rookie to hit double-digit wins since Scott Williamson in 1999. Gutierrez has more wins than Sony Gray, a better ERA than Luis Castillo, and more strikeouts per nine innings than Wade Miley.

Vladimir Gutierrez has been one of the best rookie hurlers in the National League. He’s fourth in innings pitched and ERA, and  fifth in strikeouts. Only rookies Trevor Rogers and Ian Anderson have performed better than Gutierrez in 2021.

Vladimir Gutierrez looks to get the Reds back in the win column.

Through his last four starts, Gutierrez has been inducing more ground balls. After posting a 38.6% ground ball in his first 13 starts, the right-hander has been pitching to contact more and more and his ground ball rate in his last four games is 54.0%.

Gutierrez’s calling card is that wicked curveball that sits in the high-70s. But in recent games, Gutierrez has relied more heavily on his other breaking pitch; the slider. Gutierrez has gone to the slider 29.6% of the time over the last four games as compared to using his curveball only 10.7% of the time.

Prior to this four-game stretch, Gutierrez would balance his curveball and slider almost evenly, tossing his slider 21.6% of the time and dialing up that 12-6 curveball 20.6% of the time. Changing from a more balanced attack with his breaking pitches and relying more heavily on his slider seems to be getting more contact, but the hard contact has dropped from 35.5% to 32.3%.

Is Suárez set to breakout in September?. Next

The Cincinnati Reds need Vladimir Gutierrez to return to form tonight against the Detroit Tigers. The Motor City Kitties have struggled at the dish of late, and Gutierrez needs to attack the strike zone and keep the Tigers’ hitters off balance.