How To Throw A Cutter

Cutter pitches, known as cutters, are one of the best tools in a pitcher’s arsenal.

Yes, fastballs and curveballs are more common, but this gives pitchers who can throw cutters a real advantage, especially because batters would not be expecting it. How To Throw A Cutter

In this article, we will discuss all you need to know about throwing a cutter and make you a pitcher the opposing team will dread going up against. If you’re interested, read on for more! 

What Is A Cutter?

A cutter is a slight variation on the traditional fastball. It involves pitchers holding it with a different grip that allows the pitch to break before it can hit the home plate.

If done correctly, the pitcher will not need to change their delivery motion. 

The majority of batters are familiar with and comfortable with hitting traditional fastballs, so being able to make the ball break ensures the hitter will not be able to hit the ball in a clean motion. 

Why Is It Called A “Cutter”?

The term “cutter” did not enter popular baseball lingo until the late 80s. It is a term used to refer to the balls’ movement when thrown.

As the pitcher releases the ball it will make a small break right before it reaches home plate. This caused hitters to refer to it as a “cut.” 

How To Throw A Cutter

Follow these steps to throw the perfect cutter!

Step 1: Grip

There are many different ways to grip a cutter, and all of them have similarities and differences. 

However, this is the best way to grip a cutter: pitchers should take their typical fastball grip and move their fingers so they are slightly off-center, which applies more pressure to the ball’s outer edges.

The most pressure should come from the tip of the player’s middle finger. By pressing their finger tightly to the ball, it ensures that it will spin freely. 

Step 2: The Angle Of The Arm

Cutters move in the same way as fastballs, without the turning and the snapping of the elbow or wrist. So, the cutter can actually be thrown at a natural arm angle.

However, this is only true if the motion is not a 12-to-6 arm motion. Assess the situation and then adjust your throw as necessary.

Step 3: Spin Movement 

The cutter’s spin movement should break away from the throwing hand of the pitcher. So, if a right-handed pitcher throws a cutter correctly, then the ball will break toward a left-handed hitter and away from a right-handed hitter.

However, the opposite is true for left-handed pitchers. For left handed-pitchers, the ball’s spin comes from finger placement and placing pressure on the ball with the middle finger. 

Step 4: Release Of The Ball

Now that a pitcher has their grip, arm angle, and spin movement down, it is time to release the ball.

The pitcher should release the ball like they would a fastball, and this is because a cutter is supposed to trick the batter so they’re caught off guard. 

It is also important to note that there isn’t any additional motion from the elbow or wrist when throwing a cutter. The ball’s spin comes down to the grip.

So, if you have perfected the grip and throw the ball like a fastball, it should land as a cutter and prove advantageous for your team!

How To Throw A Cutter

When Is The Best Time To Throw A Cutter?

The best time to throw a cutter is if a pitcher is right-handed and they are up against a left-handed hitter, and vice versa.

This is because cutters work best when they are able to break toward the hitter, as opposed to breaking away from them.

Pitchers and hitters need to have opposite, dominant hands for this to happen because the ball has the ability to jam the hitter via the inside. 

How Does The Cutter Move?

Cutters start their path by traveling in a straight line, but then, at the very last second, the ball breaks away from the pitching hand and towards the glove hand. 

It is important to note that the amount of break that can happen in a ball differs due to various factors – like the arm angle of a pitcher or their pitch velocity.

However, with some practice, the perfect cutters will all break in the same direction. 

Why Are Cutters Difficult To Hit?

Cutters are difficult to hit because they break toward a hitter’s hand. They are also much faster than curveballs or sliders, and actually have the ability to break baseball bats!

This happens because when a hitter swings at a cutter, the ball will make contact with the thinnest part of the handle, causing it to break. 

Who Has The Most Famous Cutter In Baseball History?

Arguably, Mariano Rivera, a pitcher for the New York Yankees, has the most effective and famous cutter in the history of the major league. This was the pitch he threw almost every time.

At the time, the cutter was a throw in baseball that had only been around for around 40 to 50 years. Because of his love of the pitch, Mariano Rivera ended up in the Hall of Fame. 

Other noteworthy cutters were Jon Lester from the Boston Red Sox, Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers, and Kenley Jansen of the LA Dodgers. 

However, the fastest cutter was pitched by Emmanuel Clase from the Cleveland Guardians, with a cutter thrown at 101.7 mph in May 2021. 

Final Thoughts 

A cutter is a throw in baseball that is a variation on the fastball. A cutter works best when thrown by a pitcher whose dominant hand is different from that of the batter because the ball will break toward the hitter instead of breaking away from them. 

Throwing a good cutter relies on the grip of the pitcher, as opposed to the throw. Pitchers need to grip the ball like they would a fastball, but move their fingers off center and apply pressure to the ball from their middle finger. 

Christopher Anderson
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