What to do when things go bad

What is some advice would you give for a pitcher when things start to go bad?

It is easy when you are out there on the hill and hitting your spots for three innings then the fourth you hit a road bump and walk a few and the next thing you know your gripping the ball tighter, what do you do to get it back?

This is a situation where there is no time to go and study. When you are on the mound you have to be your best coach and stick to the basics when things go haywire.

I think it’s a good idea to identify what you are, how you do what you do and be able to always come back to that when you find yourself not hitting your spots and getting a little wild.

When you throw strikes and hit your spots, really try to remember exactly how you did it so you know how to repeat it. It’s really an art and not easy but if you work on it you can be better.

What I find is, especially in younger pitchers, when things are getting tougher on them they reach back and try to throw harder when relaxing and finding your composure will get you back on track.

There are a lot of other variables as well…tipping pitches, tired, release points and so on. It could be that the hitters figured out your stuff and got to you, maybe you just need to be a little less predictable and keep guys guessing.

Focus on your mechanics, I am sure that there is something in your mechanics that you know completely affect your ability to throw strikes, balance, stride, hand placement, something, just focus on that and go back to throwing strikes. It also helps me to regain control of my plate by throwing inside and getting the hitter to react to that.

Just like slumping at the plate, I go to distractions—play a song in my head, tie my shoe and study a blade of grass, think about what to eat after the game.

I remember when Vic Raschi, who would become one of the Yankees’ fabled Big Three rotation, first came up to the Yankees. It was late in the 1946 season, and he started a game against the Philadelphia Athletics, I believe it was. For the first three innings he was all right, but in the fourth he ran into trouble, and there he was, runners on first and third, one out, and he couldn’t get a handle on his stuff.
He was standing there on the mound, trying to figure out what to do next, when suddenly he heard a disembodied voice coming from somewhere near him. That voice said, “He can’t hit a high fast ball.” (The “he” may have been Elmer Valo, who was a tough cookie up there at the plate.) So Raschi stepped off the mound and looked around, trying to determine where the voice was coming from. Now, in those days they used to have just three umpires working the game, and when there was a runner on base one of the umps, usually the first base guy, would take up a position between the mound and second base. Raschi looked around and saw Bill Summers—the first-base umpire—bent over behind the mound, tying his shoelaces. Other than that the guy didn’t move—but Raschi heard the voice again: “Yeah, you heard me right. He can’t hit a high fast ball.” And this time there was no mistake—the umpire was talking to the pitcher! After a couple of seconds Summers continued, “We Massachusetts boys have to stick together.” (Raschi was from West Springfield and Summers was from somewhere near Boston.) So Raschi returned to the mound, struck out the next two batters and got out of the inning without being scored on.
Helpful ump.
And there are other things pitchers have done to recover their composure and their focus. Lefty Gomez, when he ran into a tight spot, would call time and step off the mound, look up at the sky and watch an airplane. Allie Reynolds used to go to the rosin bag and futz around with it for a minute or so. These are just a few examples. Very often, just this kind of interruption can get a pitcher back on the beam. And at times the catcher can go out to the mound and talk to the pitcher, tell him a funny story and crack him up—this too can break the tension. Or he can get the pitcher momentarily riled up: one time Yogi Berra went out to the mound, thinking that he would tell Raschi something like “I think you’re losing it”, only to be greeted by His Royal Surliness: “Give me the goddam ball and get back behind the plate, you idiot!” And Yogi liked that because it told him that the Springfield Rifle was back on the beam.
So, however you do it, you can regain your focus and resume what you’re good at—throwing strikes and getting outs. :slight_smile: 8)

Most SF fans are glad that we have an ultra cool guy like Barry Zito, but I wish had some of that surliness. Cause whatever he’s muttering to himself as he scans across the crowd and scoreboard does not inspire confidence onscreen.