The New York Mets’ recent frustrations have been in regards to the team. Now it’s time to look at what the deal is with Rafael Montero.
The New York Mets are an organization that has suffered from some frustrating seasons. Perhaps nothing is more frustrating than the case of pitcher Rafael Montero, who the Mets have been waiting on for years.
Montero is known for being a control pitcher who just can’t seem to stop walking hitters. With a career 5.2 walks per nine innings, Montero has great movement but can’t keep the ball away from the middle of the plate.
He’s struggled immensely in terms of consistency and the stats certainly show it. A prime example came on Aug. 30 when he threw 8.1 innings of shutout baseball, holding the Cincinnati Reds to three hits while walking four and striking out eight.
In his three starts since, he’s allowed eight earned runs, 16 hits, and has walked 12 hitters in a combined 15 innings. It’s been impossible to predict what he will bring to the mound when he’s called upon.
The most frustrating thing about Montero, however, isn’t necessarily the struggles or the lack of consistency in his performance. It’s the fact that he has all the tools to be a successful pitcher in the major leagues yet can’t seem to put it all together.
He has a career 3.26 ERA in the minors, while his ERA in the majors has skyrocketed to an ugly 5.11. This season, he’s posted a 5.08 big-league ERA, more than two-and-a-half runs higher than the 2.48 mark he posted for Triple-A Las Vegas.
Montero’s problem isn’t with his stuff or his pitching ability. He’s a decent pitcher. He simply doesn’t trust his stuff when he’s in the majors. He pitches differently when he takes the mound in the minor leagues.
In the minors, he trusts his stuff and throws his pitches without much thought. In the majors, he tries to be perfect with every pitch. While every pitcher strives for perfection, the good ones know that trusting their stuff is the secret to success at the game’s highest level.
Montero tries to nibble at the corners with his pitches. But with his movement, this leads to the pitch either going over the middle of the plate or missing the plate entirely. As a result, the opposition winds up with a lot of hard-hit balls and a lot of walks, two issues that have plagued Montero in the majors.
Montero inevitably gives up a walk or hit and then ultimately shuts down. He tries even harder to be perfect, which only makes things worse as the innings build up.
When he has his good games it’s because he doesn’t focus on pinpoint location. He simply throws the ball and lets the movement take over. If he does that on a consistent basis, he’ll be a solid major league starter. If he doesn’t, he should expect to see a lot of Triple-A All-Star appearances.
For Montero to be successful he needs to trust his pitches. He has the ability to pitch in the majors, he just needs the right mindset. There’s a phrase that gets used a lot with young players, and it’s one Montero needs to hear again: Just do what got you to the dance.