eMailbag: Pedro as Closer, Mentality of a Closer

Albert S sent in the following e-mail, which read:

“Hey Matthew how come nobody’s is talking about making pedro next year closer.”

The Mets, media and fans can talk about it all we want.  The fact is, Martinez is a free agent, and unless he is open to the job it is not going to happen.  From what I can gather, he has no interest in being a closer, since he is very specific in terms of how he prepares, and what his arm is capable of doing.

As for having the necessary mentality, I’m not so sure about that.

Look, with all due respect to what he has accomplished in his career, Martinez is not the same pitcher he was 10 years ago.  Today, and to his credit, he is a more intellectual pitcher these days, using brains instead of power, while making adjustments and outsmarting the hitter pitch by pitch.

If you recall from this season, he would need at least an inning or two to calibrate to the opposition – which is something a closer cannot afford to do.

By the way, while we’re on the subject, most people characterize the mentality of a closer as being one of aggression, ‘heart,’ and having no fear.

The reality is that, instead, it’s about being resilient, poised and having focus, as Ron Darling once explained to me.  It’s about being able to blow a save, deal with it, shake it off and get back on the mound less than 24 hours later, which is something a starting pitcher never has to do.

There are plenty of aggressive, no-fear pitchers who fail miserably at being closers.  However, every successful closer is confident and resilient.