OUCH!!! You’re really up against it, aren’t you?
I never experienced this problem in the more than two decades I pitched, but I have seen a lot of it, particularly in the major leagues and among some very good pitchers. Sometimes it’s just temporary—a pitcher will hit a big pothole in the road, but eventually it will work itself out. Other times it’s a major problem, affecting a pitcher to the point where he’s just about ready to call it quits. I don’t know exactly what your situation is, but the first thing I would suggest is that you get together with a good professional pitching coach and have him check you out thoroughly—it could well be something has gone amiss with your mechanics, and if such is the case it needs to be addressed. As to whether it’s mental or not, I can’t really say, but I’m willing to bet that if your problem has anything to do with the mechanics and it’s fixed you have nothing to worry about.
Let me share a couple of stories with you that might clarify things.
When the Yankees acquired Allie Reynolds in a trade with the Indians, Reynolds was a power pitcher with a fast ball exceeding 100 miles an hour—but he was wild, couldn’t find the plate to save himself. A year or so later lefthander Ed Lopat joined the team, and he saw what was happening, and he took Reynolds in hand. He noticed that Reynolds was, among other things, rushing his delivery. So Lopat slowed him down, got him to pace himself better, and taught him to change speeds on his pitches. Exit the thrower whose fast ball exceeded 100 miles an hour. Enter the pitcher—a power pitcher with finesse, whose fast ball exceeded 100 miles an hour. And Reynolds spent the next several years being one of the Yankees’ Big Three rotation.
The other side of the coin: The Cincinnati Reds once had a pitcher, a guy named Jay Hook who, to put it mildly, was inconsistent. He reminded one of the little girl with the curl in the old nursery rhyme—when he was good, he was very, very good, but when he was bad—he stank. One day he was pitching against the Pirates, and he stank on hot ice—they were eating him alive, turning every pitch he threw into line-drive extra-base hits. Finally, in the fifth inning, manager Fred Hutchinson had to take him out of the game, and when Hook returned to the dugout he sat in a corner and bemoaned, over and over, the loss of his fast ball. It had up and deserted him.
Jim Brosnan, a very good relief pitcher for Cincinnati who might have made a good pitching coach had he been so inclined, tried to talk to him. He tried to explain: “Nobody has all his good stuff every time out. That’s when you learn this game. You have other pitches to throw; use them when your fast ball isn’t there.” But he might as well have been talking to the wall. Hook appeared not to hear him; he just kept moaning and wailing "Without my fast ball I can’t pitch."
The poor fish didn’t last much longer in the majors, not with that attitude.
So let me say this—before you become convinced that it’s all in your head, have a good pitching coach, or even another pitcher, check you out. For all you know, it might be just a temporary thing, and you’ll find your groove again. Good luck. 8) :baseballpitcher: