When it comes to baseball, there are a whole range of different styles of pitch that you can learn and master.
Each of them have their benefits, and there is usually an opportune moment when you can pull out each one. One of the very best types of baseball pitch, though, is the “cutter pitch”.
If you’ve ever seen a baseball pitcher throw the ball and it’s gone a little off-center as it flies through the air, you’ll know that it not only looks cool but is also very effective against the batter.
This gets to the heart of the matter: what is a cutter pitch?
To put it simply, it’s when a pitcher throws their ball in a specific way that causes the ball to shift off-center to the opposite side of where it was released. But how do you achieve this yourself?
Well, we’ve got the answers for you. In our handy guide below, we’ll tell you exactly what a cutter pitch is, as well as how you can try one yourself.
On top of that, we’ll look at grips and compare other types of pitches.
What Is A Cutter Pitch (Or Cut Fastball)?
A cutter pitch (also known as a “cut fastball”) is one of the best styles of pitching that you can use in baseball, for many reasons.
For one thing, it has a late break, which means that it diverges a bit when it stops at the home play. This should make it more difficult for batters, making it a more successful pitch.
On top of that, they can trick the batters well. This is because, like a sinker pitch, it should get the batter to swing for the ball but miss it, instead hitting the ground.
But what actually makes up a cutter pitch/cut fastball? Well, it is thrown with a high velocity, trvalleing at an impressive and effective speed.
As it travels through the air, it does so with a diagonal cutting motion, shifting to the opposite side of the side it was thrown.
In a sense, it “cuts” through the air in a fast manner – hence the name, cut fastball.
How Does A Cutter Pitch Affect The Batter?
When you throw a cutter pitch or a cut fastball, its aim is to keep the baseball away from the batter’s ideal spot on their bat.
If the ball hits where they want it to on the bat, they’ll be able to strike a great shot, and your team will suffer. As a result, a cutter pitch keeps the ball away from their ideal spot.
Interestingly, a cutter pitch can be so perfectly placed that it not only messes up the batter’s hit, but actually breaks their bat.
You read that right! Some cut fastballs can shatter the batter’s bat if they’re not careful and the ball strikes them in the small half of their handle.
When it comes to switch hitters, which are batters who can hit effectively from both the right and left sides of the plate, they will hit from the same side as the pitcher’s throwing arm.
This makes it much easier for them to try and hit the cut fastball properly.
If a batter tries to hit your cutter pitch from the side opposite to the hand that you threw it with, they will often end up with a poor swing, and likely miss the ball.
Make sure that you know what type of batter you’re playing against, and change your play accordingly.
Cutter Pitch – How Can You Get The Correct Grip?
If you want to practice and perfect the cutter pitch yourself, you’ll need to know how to grip the ball properly.
Without a proper type of grip, you won’t be able to throw the ball with as much effectiveness, and you won’t pull off a cutter pitch successfully.
So, what is the proper grip for a cutter pitch? Well, you’ll need a special cutter grip for it.
Most batters will be used to the typical four seam grips or two seam grips, and if they get a fastball thrown with one of these then they might be able to overcome it and get in a good hit.
How To Do A Cutter Grip
As a result, there is a unique cutter grip that will help you to perform a successful cutter grip.
To replicate this grip, you’ll want to place your index and middle fingers so that they are held next to each other, both positioned firmly over the baseball’s seams.
Then take your ring finger and position it on the seam, before finally taking your thumb and placing it beneath the index and middle finger.
Wheil you’ve got this grip in place, make sure that you’re pushing the ball a bit in order to add some extra pressure onto it.
This will help you to achieve the high speeds that are needed for a cutter pitch, giving it a higher velocity than other styles of pitch.
When you do throw it, move your arm like you would with a typical fastball, and don’t snap the wrist as you throw it. The ball’s spin is going to come from the extra pressure you give it, not any wrist snapping.
Practice Makes Perfect
Like all baseball techniques, the key really is to practice, practice, practice. You won’t be able to nail it on your first throw after following these instructions – not even a professional pitcher could!
If you look online for some videos of famous pitchers throwing cut fastballs, try and look at the way they do it.
You’ll notice that they should be using a special cutter grip, like what we’ve described here.
On top of that, notice the form of their body and the way they move their arm as they throw.
Try and replicate it while you practice. It won’t come instantly, but you will get to grips with it eventually (no pun intended).
How Does The Cut Fastball Compare With Other Pitch Styles?
Now that we’ve explained what a cutter pitch is and how you can do a grip for one, you might be wondering how this cut fastball might compare with other styles of pitch that you can use in baseball.
Well, when you throw a cut fastball, it should break to the side of the pitcher’s gloved hand.
In order to do this, it should be cutting a diagonal line through the air, drifting over slightly so that it can reach that opposite side to the side you threw it from. This doesn’t really happen with other styles of pitch.
On top of that, a cut fastball should be exactly that – fast. When you throw one of these, you can expect a greater velocity (speed) compared to what you would get with other styles of baseball pitch.
Cut Fastball VS Regular Fastball
A regular fastball is the most common type of pitch that a baseball player (or a softball player for that matter) is going to use.
It’s efficient and quick, with the pitcher trying to throw the ball as hard as they can in the hope that it will travel through the air very quickly.
The very best professional baseball pitcher tried to throw their ball at 100 miles per hour for years, and in 2010 Aroldis Chapman (then from the Cincinnati Reds) managed it and then some.
He threw a regular fastball that reached speeds of 105.1 miles per hour. Impressive!
Needless to say, you don’t have to be trying to reach these incredible speeds when you throw a fastball.
There is no need for such velocity when you’re not in a professional setting, but you do want to make sure that it goes quickly.
With a cut fastball and a regular fastball, they are both similar in that they’re trying to go as hard and as fast as the pitcher can possibly throw them. So what’s the difference between these two pitching styles?
Well, a cut fastball is going to drift over a little bit to the side as it flies through the air.
Obviously it comes from the pitcher’s throwing hand, but in the air it should move over to the opposite side, going more in line with their gloved hand.
With a regular fastball, though, the ball should typically go in a straight line from the pitcher’s hand over to the batter.
For this reason, it’s a little more predictable than a cut fastball pitch, and so the batter has a greater chance of hitting it – and hitting it well.
Cut Fastball VS Slider
A slider is another popular type of baseball or softball pitch. It is thrown with less speed than a fastball pitch, but more speed than a curveball pitch.
When you throw a slider, the ball should tail in a lateral way down through the hitting zone of the batter.
In this sense, a slider is quite similar to a cut fastball. With the cutter pitch, the ball travels over towards the gloved side of the pitcher as it travels through the air.
The same goes for the slider pitch, with the ball releasing from the pitcher’s throwing side and traveling over towards the gloved side.
However, there is also a key difference between the cut fastball and the slider pitch.
Though both types of pitch break on the side of the pitcher’s glove, the slider pitch will actually typically break earlier than the cut fastball.
On top of that, it has a much bigger break too, with a shape form around 2-8 or 10-4.
When it comes to the cut fastball, its break is smaller, and it has less of these shapes.
How To Perform A Cutter Pitch Depending On Your Dominant Hand
When throwing a cutter pitch, it’s best to have a high arm angle. On top of that, pitchers will want to hold their ball a little off-center, allowing it to turn a few inches away from them when it’s traveling through the air.
When it comes to right-handed pitchers and left-handed pitchers, there isn’t going to be too much difference in form. Try to retain the same grip and throw with the same hard and fast motion.
However, there is a difference in where the ball is going to go. A cutter pitch will go towards the side of the pitcher’s glove, drifting over as it travels through the air.
This means that a right-handed pitcher will throw a cut fastball that breaks inside to a left-handed batter.
On the contrary, a left-handed pitcher will throw a cut fastball that breaks on the inside for a right-handed batter.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Difference Between A Cutter Pitch And A Sinker Pitch?
If you’ve heard of a “sinker pitch”, you might be wondering how these differ from a cutter pitch.
Well, a sinker pitch will drop as it moves. A cutter pitch, meanwhile, will cut across, meaning that it moves horizontally – while a sinker pitch will move vertically, dropping.
Where Did The Cutter Pitch Come From?
The origin of the cutter pitch isn’t clear. It’s said to have been around since the 1950s, but Mariano Rivera of the Yankees made it popular in the 1990s.
Cutter pitches are very effective in baseball – use our guide to learn it yourself!
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