During my 40 years in professional baseball, I have never experienced the lack of control that our pitchers have exhibited during our first 20+ games.
With 11 walks, 4 wild pitches, and a hit batter in just a single game, it's unbelievable.
Fluke night? Hardly. This year has been nightmarish when it comes to throwing strikes. The mass exodus of Shell, Ledesma, and Rivera was due primarily to not being able to get the ball over the plate.
Hanrahan's demotion from closer and Garrett Mock's being pushed back from late inning situations didn't solely come from wildness, but it was the major contributor.
Mike Hinckley has shown an adroit ability to get left-hand hitters out, but he has walked the first batter that he has faced several times.
Last night Tavarez and Wells were all over the place with their control.
Throwing strikes is the most fundamental aspect of pitching. Even in little league I can remember coaches saying, "If you can't throw strikes, you can't pitch."
That is the most frustrating thing about all this ineffectiveness that we have witnessed this season.
From the time you pick up your first baseball, everything that you are taught is centered around throwing the ball accurately. It doesn't matter whether you pitch, catch or play the outfield or infield, you have to learn to throw the ball accurately.
Most of our pitchers have been pitching since they were young boys. (The exception is Daniel Cabrera who, according to newspaper reports, didn't pick up a baseball until he was 13 or 14.)
I guarantee that all of them have been able to throw strikes consistently throughout their respective baseball careers. How can I be so sure?
They wouldn't have made it this far unless they had exhibited that quality.
Now, the $64,000 dollar question!! Why the collective inability to get the ball over the plate?
The first thing that comes to mind is mechanics. Usually when a major league pitcher experiences control problems, it's due to something in his delivery going awry: He opens up; his stride is too short or too long; he takes the ball out of his glove too early or too late; he changes his release point; he rushes; he tries to over throw; he doesn't get on top of the ball; his arm angle changes.
There are a whole lot of reasons why, mechanically, a pitcher can get off target.
With today's electronic media and all the access we have to video of a player's performance, never has it been easier to find a problem or flaw in a delivery.
We have one of the best pitching coaches in all of baseball in Randy St. Claire. He is a tireless worker and is a master at pitching mechanics.
Somebody better start executing his philosophies or there will be more changes to come.
One other thought: You have to be mentally tough in this game to survive. These men didn't get here without being strong. I think that if we could relax a little, go back to the basisics, pick a spot and drill it there, slow down the game, strike one, trust your stuff and let the defense make the plays, in the long run we will be okay.