Baseball Cutter (FC)
A cutter, when thrown correctly, can be utterly devastating for opposing batters. From a batter’s point of view, the pitch is practically indistinguishable from a standard four-seam fastball. It has a nearly identical velocity, but just when the batter is convinced the pitch is a fastball, it moves to the side toward the pitcher’s glove side. Keep reading to learn all about the cutter pitch in baseball.
A cutter, also commonly known as a cut fastball, is a pitch that has the speed of a fastball with a slight side-to-side movement like a slider. The cutter is officially a variety of the four-seam fastball. The pitch has an almost identical velocity to a four-seam fastball, and it relies on backspin to keep elevation.
Where the cutter is different from a four-seam fastball, however, is the slight movement it has just as it’s reaching home plate. The ball moves ever so slightly toward the pitcher's glove side, usually just a couple of inches. This may not seem like much movement compared to a slider or curveball, but it is more than enough to break up a hitter’s contact. The most important aspects of the cutter are that it has a fastball’s speed with just a tiny bit of slider movement, thus making it one of the harder pitches to hit.
How To Throw A Cutter
When it comes to throwing a cutter, if you can throw a four-seam fastball, with enough practice, you can quickly learn how to throw a cutter as well. The grip for a cutter is almost identical to a four-seam fastball, although you should position your two top fingers (the forefinger and middle finger) slightly closer together.
You should also offset this grip slightly to one side, so where in a four-seam grip your fingers are perpendicular to the seams, a cutter grip should have the top two fingers oriented slightly diagonally to the seams. This gives the pitch a tiny bit of side spin in addition to the standard backspin. From there, throw the pitch like a four-seam fastball, pulling hard on the seams as you release.
Since the cutter is a variation of the four-seam fastball, there aren’t really any variations on a cutter. However, some cutters are better than others. Depending on one’s technique, you can get a cutter to break much more severely than a standard cutter. Some of the best cutter pitchers have claimed that pressing harder on the ball with their middle finger produces a more severe side-to-side action across the plate, although this isn’t a standard way to throw a cutter. The most important part when developing any pitch is following the technique and seeing how it can work for you.
History of the Cutter
Baseball historians are unsure who exactly coined the terms cutter or cut fastball, but the pitch has been around for over fifty years. Some pitchers have a natural cut on their four-seam fastball, so the pitch has been around for quite a while. It did, however, grow much more popular in recent years.
The famous New York Yankees closer, Mariano Rivera, who was one of the most dominant relief pitchers of all time, was famous for his cutter. Seeing his success with the pitch, pitchers around the league started to implement it into their arsenal. In modern baseball, the cutter is more popular than ever, and that’s not an accident.
Best Cutter Pitchers
A few of the best pitchers in MLB history at throwing cutters are:
- Mariano Rivera
- Roy Halladay
- Jon Lester
- Kenley Jansen
- James Shields
What is a cutter in baseball?
In baseball, a cutter is a variation of the four-seam fastball in which the pitch maintains a similar speed to a standard fastball, but features the movement of a slider at the end of the pitch. It’s an extremely difficult pitch to hit when thrown correctly, which is why it’s becoming more and more popular in baseball today. The pitch is also known as a cut fastball, and it was the most trusted pitch by famous closer Mariano Rivera.
How is the cutter thrown in baseball?
The most common way a cutter is thrown is by taking a four-seam fastball grip, placing the top two fingers closer together, and slightly offsetting them diagonally on the laces. This produces the ideal amount of backspin for speed and sidespin for movement. Some pitchers, however, have a natural degree of cut to their four-seam fastballs thanks to their delivery motion. Some pitchers also claim that different pressure on the top two fingers can create the cutting effect.