Everybody talks about it, no matter what the conversation is about. Consistency in how you discipline your kids. Consistency in how you treat others. Consistency in how you get hitters out. It's all about consistency, but nobody is quite sure how you become consistent.
If you talk to young pitchers, you are bound to hear them talk about working to be consistent. And if you ask them how they're going to do that, you're going to get a lot of different answers. "Consistency is what separates guys at this level [Double-A] and the majors," said Reading pitcher Will Savage. "You just have to work on your routine and be consistent in everything you do." So, for Savage, developing a consistent routine both on and off the field to prepare yourself is how he's going about being consistent. It certainly makes sense that a consistent routine would make for a consistent pitcher. "The last couple of seasons, that's [his lack of consistency] been the major complaint," said pitcher Josh Outman about his weak spot. "It's just a feel for things. I came into spring training throwing strikes and doing what I wanted to with the ball, but because of weather and scheduling issues, I was off the mound and kind of got out of touch with it," said Outman. So, how is he going after consistency? "Pitching is a lot about feel and I just have to get myself to where I feel comfortable and just throw strikes."
As Outman said, consistency has been an issue in his development. He's the type of pitcher who can go out there and look like he's ready to face anybody and then come out the next time and look like he would struggle against the Bad News Bears. Much of his lack of consistency stems from just not being able to throw strikes time after time. Sometimes, the slightest thing that's off in a pitcher's delivery - his arm slot, how he's shifting his weight, having a consistent landing spot with his front foot - will throw even the best pitcher into a tailspin. One of Outman's biggest fans has been his Dad, who has taught Outman how to approach the game. "As far as work ethic, I get a lot of that from him," said Outman, who also credits his Dad with boosting his mental awareness of the game. "How to set up a hitter and how to learn about hitters and how they're set up. Just analyzing the game." Outman also knows that he can throw strikes, so it's not necessarily a confidence issue because he's pitched well - consistently well - in the Fall League and also as a member of Team USA, but not in the minors. Outman knows the problem and admits the problem, which is well over half the battle, since many young pitchers just believe they can go out there and throw the ball past a hitter whenever they want. Outman knows that it's not that easy and he's worked to literally learn the game of baseball and study the approach of hitters.
Two different pitchers, both pitching at the same level this season, but different ways of going about consistency.
Well, how about their pitching coach, Tom Filer? After all, he's the one who is in charge of building these guys and helping them reach for consistency. "I think it's just repetition. Doing the same things when they're throwing, whether it's on the side or in a game, and knowing how to get to that point," said Filer. "You can't really tell a guy how to be consistent. You just have to let him know when he's doing things right and when he's falling into a bad spot and let him get it from there. When he puts all those things together and can repeat it on the mound over and over, he's learned how to be consistent."