Coach Paul, you can say that again!
I have seen more pitchers than you can shake a bat at—the ones who have electric stuff but can’t find the plate—the ones who have a couple of good pitches but don’t know what to do with them—and they all have one thing in common: lack of command AND control! Some of them don’t even know how to throw, let alone pitch, and that is one thing that has pitching coaches tearing their hair out by the roots, assuming they have hair.
One particularly glaring example comes to mind here. Do you remember the 1996 World Series? Of course you do. It was the fourth game. The Yankees had been behind 6-0, but then they started climbing back; they scored three runs in the sixth inning, and now they were in the eighth, behind 6-3. The Braves had sent in their closer, Mark Wohlers to pitch. Not a great closer—nowhere near Mariano Rivera or even Trevor Hoffman, but a very good one. But that guy ran into trouble right from the start, and it was his lack of command that did him in. And that lack of command evidenced itself when he had to face Jim Leyritz, who had come into the game in the sixth inning to catch.
Leyritz had a reputation as an extremely dangerous hitter who could change the course of a game with one swing of the bat. So what did Mark Wohlers do? He started off with his best pitch, a 98-mile-an-hour fastball—and Leyritz was right on it, and he fouled it off, a hard line drive at that. And the pitcher suddenly got this LOOK on his face—surprise and doubt, wondering if he could get the batter out with that pitch. He went to his second-best pitch, a curveball, and no dice, the batter was taking. Yet another one, same result. 2-1. Wohlers went back to that fastball, and again Leyritz fouled it off. Now he knew he would never be able to get Leyritz out, so he went to his third best pitch, a slider—and yet another foul ball, this time down the first-base line. And then the beleaguered closer hung one, a slider up and in, and Leyritz didn’t miss that one; he swung and drilled it over the left-field wall, and I will never forget the announcer’s scream: "Back at the track—at the wall—WE ARE TIED!"
Nobody had thought to tell Wohlers that if you’re going to get beat you get beat with your best pitch, not your third best. Fact is, the guy just didn’t have the necessary command of any of his pitches, and he was never the same after that.
The Yankees went on to win that game in the tenth, 8-6.
So you see just how essential it is to have command of your pitches—and I mean all of them. :baseballpitcher: