Evan Reed, right, was designated for assignment by the Tigers on Wednesday. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)
Detroit — He obviously wasn’t the only reason the season turned for the Tigers when it did.
But Evan Reed’s reversal can be traced to the same day as that of the Tigers’ troubles.
It was May 18. All was going well for him and for them.
They were 27-12, and Reed, despite being frequently used, was proving to be dependable. Hanging over his head was a sexual assault investigation, but work was going well.
In 16 appearances, Reed had a 2.81 earned-run average. He was throwing strikes (just three walks in 16 innings) and was looking like a mainstay in the Tigers’ bullpen.
Then it all fell apart.
In 10 appearances after May 18 — during the Tigers’ slide, in other words — Reed had an 8.38 ERA.
In the 10 games he pitched, the Tigers were 1-9.
Opposing hitters had a .362 batting average against him. He walked six in 92⁄3 innings.
Worse than that, he allowed 17 hits in 92⁄3 innings.
His season snowballed out of control, and when the Tigers had to clear room Wednesday for right-handed reliever Chad Smith, Reed was their choice.
Just moments after Reed arrived at the Tigers’ clubhouse — getting all sorts of help with his luggage — he was walking up the ramp to the parking structure by himself, having been designated for assignment.
The Tigers have 10 days to either release or trade Reed, but if he clears waivers and if the Tigers want to keep him in the organization, his choices are the usual ones: Accept an assignment to Triple A Toledo or become a free agent.
Accepting the assignment is the usual course.
What happened to Reed in the last month, though?
“He had spells (earlier) in which he was really good,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “He had a dominating fastball and would get swings and misses with his slider.
“But then he had trouble throwing strikes and wasn’t attacking hitters.
“I still think Evan can be a good major-league pitcher, but it just wasn’t working right now.”
And with the Tigers reeling, they had to find help right now.
“When he pitched well,” said Ausmus, “he was getting ahead of hitters and had them on their heels. He’s at his best with a power arm, when he attacks hitters.
“But he has to get more consistent with his mechanics, especially on his slider.
“He was the guy I leaned on early to bridge the gap to the late-inning guys, and he did a good job for a time in that role.”
But not consistently enough in the last month.