CJ Nitkowski: Pitcher Extraordinaire
I am very excited to present the newest installment in the "Six Pack of Questions" segment with former Major League pitcher and current arm in the Korean Baseball Organization, CJ Nitkowski. On a busy schedule, I appreciate CJ taking the time to answer questions on pitching in the MLB and KBO, the playoffs, "King" Felix, and even Stephen Strasburg. Enjoy this great read, and check out more on CJ Nitkowski by stopping by his website.
Playing in both Japan and Korea offer some challenges from playing in the US. The game has less power in Asia and they play a high degree of "small ball." There's lots of bunting and stealing. The games are long and can seem tedious at times. The crowds are loud though which makes it more fun too. There is more of an international soccer feel at the games.
It should be his. Wins are out of your control as a pitcher and can be a highly misleading stat. The true indicators of how he pitched this year blow pretty much everyone else away. I'm interested to see the voting. The smart voters will vote for him.
I was very unsuccessful as a major league starter and found a way to stick around as a reliever. Mentally I was probably better suited for the relief role. I got to try starting again in 2009 & 2010 in Korea. It was a good test and fun for me. I did ok and it gave me the desire to start again. It also made me wonder if I could do it in the States again.
Success rate for Tommy John is high, he should be fine. I suspect he'll be as good as he was before. His challenge will be noticing the difference between serious pain and just the regular aches and pains, when to pitch through it, when to hold back.
Baseball is such a mental game, especially pitching. Young pitchers need to learn how to be confident, bounce back from bad outings and understand their strengths and weaknesses. And of course the most important lesson: throw strikes.
I think this will be a great post season with so many good story lines: Bobby Cox's final post season, the first one in a long time for the Reds & Rangers, the Yankees trying to repeat, Phillies dominating starters,etc. I think it's somewhat wide open and it's not an easy choice but I'll go out on limb and take Cincinnati.