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The Orioles don’t want their pitchers throwing cut fastballs

Aug 23, 2012, 2:19 PM EDT

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The cut fastball has certainly increased in popularity over the last several years, not only as the pitch that made Mariano Rivera but also as a go-to offering for starters like Roy Halladay and Jon Lester. The Orioles, though, don’t want their young pitchers throwing cutters, feeling it will take away from their other pitches.

Former A’s and Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson, now Baltimore’s director of pitching development, offered his thoughts on the cutter to MASN’s Steve Melewski:

Typically what we see is the more you throw that cutter, you can become dependent on it and you start to overuse it and typically what happens to guys that overuse the cutter is their fastball velocity drops. That has been consistent over the years.

I’m not saying the cutter is not a good pitch, don’t misunderstand me. A cutter used effectively is a nice addition to your arsenal. But a cutter thrown 40 percent of the time for a young power pitcher can become a crutch, then your velocity drops and you fail to develop your changeup and a breaking ball that has depth to it. The cutter overused is normally not displacing changeups and curveballs, it’s displacing fastballs.

Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette feels the same way about the cutter, and it’s been taken out of top prospect Dylan Bundy’s arsenal since he was drafted last year. Peterson said the Orioles are modeling Bundy’s arsenal after Justin Verlander‘s: fastball, curveball, changeup.

  1. hammyofdoom - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    GAAAH! This has been my pet peeve with the Red Sox for the past two years. Since Lester was doing well with his cutter when he came up Beckett, Buchholz, Lackey all started overusing cutters or learning them out of nowhere. Thank god someone is finally bringing this up. I’ve also noticed that since the Sox pitchers began using cutters more, their 4-seam fastball velocity as dropped.

    • baseballisboring - Aug 23, 2012 at 4:34 PM

      Eh. You’re basing basically all that on 4 pitchers, 2 of which were declining before they even started throwing it.

      I just don’t see the evidence. Cutters put more stress on the elbow, but so does every other breaking pitch except the changeup. Should we be taking curveballs away from pitchers too? Bundy’s their top pitching prospect, and his cutter is his best pitch. Makes no sense.

    • bigleagues - Aug 23, 2012 at 4:53 PM

      Which prompts me to ponder: Is Peterson’s cautious view of the Cutter among the reasons why he was not hired by the Sox last fall? Or more to the point, did the Red Sox brass anticipate friction with a certain weeble-wobble-like starting pitcher?

      All I know is that I was shocked that Bob McClure ended up being the choice and I’m still trying to make sense of it – especially now with the way it played out.

  2. Alex K - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    And from everything I’ve heard Bundy’s cutter is his best pitch. So, yeah, it makes sense to take away the best weapon a guy has to get outs.

    • southpaw2k - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:45 PM

      I’ve heard the same thing about his cutter, but I thought the expectation was that once he reached Double-A, he’d be able to experiment with it more. I guess based on this article that won’t happen.

    • ajcardsfan - Aug 23, 2012 at 3:44 PM

      I think they don’t want him to rely on it until his other pitches have had a better chance to develop and his mechanics are firmed up. What they’ve said makes sense, and once his change-up and curve are good to go, I’m sure they’ll give him back his cutter.

  3. opinevain - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    Orioles opinion matter today. Thank You

  4. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    I have heard others say that Phil Hughes turned his season (career?) around when he dropped his cutter earlier this year. Unless it is great, it seems to be a more hittable version of a four-seamer.

    • number42is1 - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:58 PM

      “Unless it is great”

      his name is Mo

  5. delchef9 - Aug 23, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    Halladay’s fastball was down to 88-90 before he went on the “DL” this year probably wont hit 10 wins this year…….definetly a good subject to look into……

    • Alex K - Aug 23, 2012 at 4:08 PM

      Doc is also 35 years old and been pitching in MLB off and on since 1998. He has also been one of the best pitchers in baseball for about 10 years. So I don’t think he is going to be the test case for the negatives of the cutter.

  6. baseballisboring - Aug 23, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    It’s one thing if they take his cutter away for like, a year and then give it back to him so he can develop his other pitches. I still think that’s kinda silly and a bit risky, but that’s at least defensible. If they’re taking a pitching prospect’s BEST PITCH away from him permanently, that’s ridiculous. I mean, is this even true? I don’t see how it would decrease fastball velocity. I guess the argument is that it puts more stress on the elbow, but so do breaking balls. Plenty of guys throw sliders AND curveballs, so why wouldn’t Bundy be able to throw curveballs and cutters, especially when it’s his BEST pitch??? Utter nonsense.

    • ramrene - Aug 23, 2012 at 7:14 PM

      Where did you hear that breaking balls put more stress on the elbow?

      That is an old wives tale and unsupported by current data. In the last 10-years there have been two studies regarding just that topic and youth because that is the real question isn’t it? Should we teach kids to throw a breaking ball at a young age or not.

      The first was a 5-year study sponsored by Little League of America and was conducted by the University of North Carolina. The other by American Sports Medicine Institute which is Dr. James Andrews and his group. Dr. Andrews is the guy who performs all the “Tommy John” surgeries throughout MLB.

      Both studies came to the same conclusions… that breaking pitches cause LESS stress than the fastball and players are at risk of arm injury not because of the pitches they throw but rather through overuse playing league, travel ball, and year round. In short, they’re not giving their arms time to recover.

      Both studies are searchable on the internet but to say breaking balls is more stressful on the arm is just plain incorrect and not based on any current scientific research.

  7. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 23, 2012 at 4:37 PM

    Doesn’t Don Cooper, pitcher coach of the White Sox, routinely turn guys around by teaching them a cutter? Seems like every year, or every other, they pick up some guy who’s struggling and then he starts pitching well for the Sox.

    • baseballisboring - Aug 23, 2012 at 4:48 PM

      That’s like, literally what he’s known for. And he’s had some very impressive reclamation projects, just by teaching them a cutter that isn’t nearly as good as Bundy’s.

  8. bravo116 - Aug 23, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    I’m pretty sure he is using Mr. Phil Hughes as the example for this belief. ” But a cutter thrown 40 percent of the time for a young power pitcher can become a crutch, then your velocity drops and you fail to develop your changeup and a breaking ball that has depth to it.”

    Sounds like Mr. Phil (the Underbite) Hughes to me.

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