1 irksome stat that reveals why Reds reliever Brent Suter has struggled lately

Brent Suter has struggled to produce results all season.
Los Angeles Dodgers v Cincinnati Reds
Los Angeles Dodgers v Cincinnati Reds / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

Cincinnati Reds reliever Brent Suter has had a tough couple months. The lefty signed with Cincinnati back in January with the expectation that he'd be one of the primary left-handed options coming out of the Reds bullpen. Unfortunately, the results just haven't been there.

Suter spent the bulk of his career in Milwaukee before pitching in Colorado in 2023 and signing with the Reds this past January. Coming into 2024, Suter had pitched to a 3.49 ERA in eight seasons and was known primarily for his ability to induce weak contact.

His performance this year is in stark contrast to his career stats, as the lefty has pitched to a 4.35 ERA with a more discouraging 4.90 FIP. His strikeout and walk rates are in line with his career averages, and he's not getting unlucky on contact.

Can Brent Suter turn his season around and help the Reds earn a playoff spot?

The one thing that sticks out is that Suter's ground ball rate is down significantly year over year. He's currently running a 35.7% ground ball rate, well below his career mark of 44.8% and nearly 10% lower than league average.

When Suter was at his best, he was getting ground balls upwards of 50% of the time. He's always been able to avoid hard contact and his max exit velocity and hard hit rate allowed in 2024 are both in the top 6% of all pitchers.

The problem is that he's allowing a lot more fly balls. And since his homer to fly ball rate hasn't changed, he's allowing substantially more home runs.

Suter has actually run into this issue in the past. In 2018, his ground ball rate fell to 33% and he allowed 18 home runs in 101.1 innings with Milwaukee. He snapped back the following year but there doesn't seem to be a tidy explanation on why it's happening right now.

Reds LHP Brent Suter needs to induce more ground balls

Suter is unique in that he doesn't rely on velocity at all. He's averaging 86.1 mph on the fastball this year, placing him in the 1st percentile among all major league pitchers. The lower velocity hasn't been a hindrance for Suter in the past, however. He's always been able to find a way to work around the strike zone without blowing his pitches by opposing hitters.

Based on his career results, and the fact that he bounced back from his poor 2018 season without any issue, it's fair to have confidence that this is just a temporary issue. If he can continue to locate the fastball and changeup, and be a bit more precise with the slider, he should be able to return to the good version of himself.

Unfortunately for the Reds, we don't know when that will happen. The hope is that he can snap out of it immediately and help the Reds push for a playoff spot this summer, but we'll have to wait and see.

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