Ross Mitchell has been one of the best pitchers on the staff over the past two years. He has been the most consistent and the rock on which Cohen has sought shelter when the waters get rough for our baseball team. Mitchell knows how to get players out, plain and simple. But what makes Mitchell so good? When watching him pitch, there isn’t anything about him that makes a person think that he is one of the best pitchers in the country. So let’s take a look at what makes it work for Mitchell.
Relying on His Defense
The defense got off to a shaky start, and they fell off the wagon again in the Sunday game against Vanderbilt, but more times than not, the defense the Bulldogs put on the field is one of the best in the country. Mitchell knows this. He never takes the mound thinking that the only way he is going to get hitters out is by racking up a bunch of strikeouts. If he allows the hitters to put the ball in play, he knows the guys behind him are going to take care of it. Fielding isn’t something that gets a lot of attention in baseball, but it is hard for teams to have a lot of success if they have a hard time fielding the ball.
He Knows His Limitations
A common misconception among people is that to be successful, you should always gravitate toward your strengths. It’s a decent philosophy, but the people who are most successful in their endeavors, whether it be in sports or the corporate world, are the ones who painstakingly assure themselves they won’t be in situations where their weaknesses will cost them. Mitchell has done that as well as anyone. He will never overpower hitters, so he knows there is no point in trying. He relies on his pin point control to maintain the upper hand in any at bat. The few times that he has struggled with his control is when he has had his most problems. If he gets behind hitters, he doesn’t have the dominant fastball to allow him to catch back up. The last thing a soft tosser like Mitchell needs is to be down in the count 2-0 with hitters sitting dead red on an 85 mph fastball. That is going to lead to trouble. On Saturday, he had a hard time getting ahead in the count 0-1 and as a result got touched for two runs. Once he got back to avoiding the things that can get him into trouble, getting ahead on the first pitch and keeping the ball down and away from hitters, his night went much smoother.
If you want to compare him to anyone in Major League Baseball, the best comparisons are Jamie Moyer and Ted Lily. Both were soft tossing lefties who made a living getting people out by throwing breaking stuff and keeping the ball low in the zone. They minimized their mistakes because they didn’t get away with any. Any pitches left up in the zone by those guys got crushed. Mitchell is the same way. He keeps the ball down and is a control freak simply because he can’t afford to make mistakes.
Mitchell Never Panics
A baserunner or two can really unnerve many pitchers. A lot of them like to pitch from the wind up, and they will have a hard time getting into a groove if they have to switch to the stretch. Mitchell never lets those things bother him. He knows that his defense behind him is as good as they get, and he also knows that if he can keep the ball down, the opposing hitters won’t be able to do much to his pitches. This allows Mitchel to maintain his composure while on the mound when the opposing hitters start to rally. It’s also why you rarely see Mitchell give up a big inning.
Mitchell has been a rock. He has done whatever the coaching staff has asked of him, and I think he will continue to do that the rest of his career at Mississippi State. I’m thankful to have a guy on our team who is just as capable of winning games with his head as much as he is his arm.