Posts Tagged ‘Dwight Gooden’

Harvey’s Mental Game

July 26, 2012

Over the last few weeks there has been much debate about whether or not Matt Harvey is ready for the big leagues.  Tonight we get to find out.

I have to admit I’m concerned.  In my mind I had Harvey and Wheeler starting off the 2013 season in the rotation, having all of 2012 in the minors to fine tune their game.  I’m not going to flat-out say it is the wrong decision to hand Harvey the ball tonight.  Let’s face it, something’s got to change and maybe he’ll give this squad a boost.

In many ways, baseball is a numbers game.  My problem is I am way too lazy to analyze stats to come up with an opinion about a player’s readiness.  Particularly in the pitching area.

Instead, I focus on their confidence because on many occasions it is very easy to decipher.  All you have to do is look at a guy’s face or pay attention to his body language.

Read the following names of Mets’ pitchers and picture the look on their face when they were on the mound only.  Forget everything you know about them.  Forget about how many games they have won, their career ERA, how fast they throw, how tall they are, or how nasty their breaking pitches are.  Focus on only how they carry themselves.

Mike Pelfrey, Aaron Heilman, Frank Francisco, Manny Acosta, Armando Benitez, Jeremy Heffner, Chris Schwinden, Bobby Parnell

This group doesn’t exactly ooze machismo does it?

Now try the same exercise with the following list.

Tom Seaver, Billy Wagner, Dwight Gooden (first few years before the coke completely took over), R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana, David Cone, John Franco

You feel a little more confident in their ability to get a guy out don’t you?  Or better yet, their ability to pitch out of a jam.

Can a pitcher’s outward confidence change?  Sure.  But I argue it’s rare.

Tonight, pay attention to how Harvey reacts when someone drills one of his pitches, or when he doesn’t get a call.  It’s all about the mental game.  Right now, I’m not sure even his own catcher knows. Check out this quote from Rob Johnson

“I think mentally he’s strong enough to be there. It’s just going to be a matter of if he can compose his emotions.”

Maybe I’m being nit picky here but isn’t composing your emotions part of being mentally strong?  In my book it’s the most important thing.

The cool thing about all of this is we’ll start to figure it out with Matt Harvey tonight.


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