CJ Wilson and Cutters

Dave · October 14, 2010 at 9:27 am · Filed Under Mariners 

My new post at Brock and Salk’s blog is up and deals with C.J. Wilson’s conversion from the bullpen to the rotation. It’s not super Mariner specific (next week’s follow-up will get more into the Seattle tie-in), but I think its interesting from a “how pitching works” point of view. We’ll be talking pitching and playoff baseball when I do my weekly spot with them at 11:30 on ESPN 710.

Also, my afternoon post on FanGraphs today deals with another subject I find interesting at the moment – the rise of the cutter as the hot new pitch in baseball, and how you’re going to see a lot of it in the next couple of weeks, given which teams are still alive in the playoffs. Interestingly, the Mariners staff doesn’t have anyone who uses the pitch. Jason Vargas toyed with one earlier in the season but the experiment didn’t last long. Cliff Lee and Jamey Wright represent almost all of the cutters the team threw in 2010 (which was still just 26th in the league), and neither will be on the roster next year. It will be interesting to see if the Mariners decide that this is a trend they want to pursue. The cutter is certainly showing benefits for some guys who add it, and its hard to argue with the results of those who have picked it up.


17 Responses to “CJ Wilson and Cutters”

  1. Boy9988 on October 14th, 2010 9:46 am

    Cliff Lee and Jamey Wright represent almost all of the cutters the team through in 2009…

    Ouch Dave, Ouch.

  2. andrewjsnider on October 14th, 2010 11:06 am

    Felix should learn a cutter.

  3. tres_arboles on October 14th, 2010 12:08 pm

    Felix should learn a cutter.

    Why? He’s got great tail on his two seamer and a 96MPH four-seamer that runs. What use would a cutter be? His four-seamer/change/curve arsenal for lefties is plenty, and with his slider he doesn’t need another running pitch for righties.

  4. gloo on October 14th, 2010 12:17 pm

    Everyone besides Felix should learn a slider. Especially the relievers with first names that rhymes with Chone.

  5. Tek Jansen on October 14th, 2010 12:17 pm

    Ichiro should learn the cutter and become the M’s closer in 2013. Actually, he probably knows how to throw one.

  6. gloo on October 14th, 2010 12:18 pm

    Err, Cutter is what I meant.

  7. spankystout on October 14th, 2010 12:40 pm


    I agree that Felix can’t get much better. But the fact is he performs better against RHBs than LHBs. His career FIP against LHBs is 3.82 and against RHBs is 3.02. His career xFIP against LHBs is 3.63 and RHBs is 3.13. He also walks LHBs (3.53 BB/9) at higher career clip than RHBs (1.98BB/9). Lefties also hit the ball in the air more than righties….All in all Felix is amazing and doesn’t have much more to improve on, but if he was going to I would hope he would focus on neutralizing LHBs with a cutter, which is what his sinker does to RHBs.

  8. lewis on October 14th, 2010 2:58 pm

    Isn’t that what his slider does? Down and in to lefties, hard on lefties correct? So, why is it he isn’t so effective on lefties? Not knowing much I would have thought if he had good slider that would be one of his better pitches against? So, what is his most effective pitch against lefties and am curious where he spots most of his pitches against L. You all, seem to be amazing at getting info, I would be seriously interested. Thanks

  9. lewis on October 14th, 2010 3:01 pm

    that is… spots his pitches that are the most success vs. L. Thanks.

  10. andrewjsnider on October 14th, 2010 3:16 pm

    Why? …

    Just another weapon baby, just another weapon.

    P.S. Why so serious?

  11. spankystout on October 14th, 2010 3:27 pm

    The cutter/cut fastball doesn’t necessarily need to be setup like a slider does. Unless you have the slider of a Randy Johnson you can’t just throw it whenever, and Felix only likes to throw his breaking stuff when he is ahead in the count. I think baseballanalysts.com did an article on the slider vs. opposite handed hitters, and if I remember correctly, opposite handed hitters actually pick up the slider easier than same handed hitters.

  12. Duncan Idaho on October 14th, 2010 4:59 pm

    If Felix learned to throw a cutter well he would go from one of the best pitchers of all time to without a doubt the greatest pitcher to ever throw a baseball. I have dreamed of him learning a cutter and lord knows opposing teams would dread facing him even more.

    On Vargas, in his start in San Diego he put his cutter to such good use he was looking like a Pettite or Leiter with less velocity. Unfortunately it seemed that he almost abandoned it after that game which is a shame. Any pitch a soft tossing lefty can strike out David Eckstein swinging with is a plus weapon.

  13. moyerLIVES on October 14th, 2010 10:35 pm

    You know who I seem to remember was adding a cutter to his repertoire? Ryan Rowland-Smith. That’s who. Of course, he didn’t ever throw it (according to fangraphs). But still.

  14. Mathball on October 14th, 2010 10:48 pm

    Doesn’t Moyer throw a cutter?

  15. Steve Nelson on October 14th, 2010 11:48 pm

    Doesn’t Moyer throw a cutter?

    Yeah – Moyer’s always used both cutters and changes against right-handed hitters.

    Note that I’m deliberately calling it a cutter and not a cut fastball. I think the world already has sufficient oxymorons as it is; not no need for me to add any more.

  16. tres_arboles on October 15th, 2010 7:47 am

    Andrew and Spanky, thanks for the responses. Spanky, I know “stuff” but I don’t break down the stats the way you did. ‘preciate another way of looking at things. That’s a prime benefit of USSM.

    Andrew: “P.S. Why so serious?” Hey man, after reading the comment sections on to Seattle Times M’s blogs, it’s easy to confuse your stab at humor with idiocy, right? But I enjoy breaking down pitching so I took your post as an opener. Thanks for being a good sport.

  17. skitrex on October 16th, 2010 12:40 am

    With the success of Mariano Rivera and the cutter, I am surprised that more pitchers do not add it to their arsenal.

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