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The Cut Fastball or Cutter Is a Good Pitch to Have

The cut fastball is one of a dozen or so different types of pitches used in major league baseball. It is not one of the more common pitches in that it can be a somewhat difficult pitch to master. Some pitchers will have four or five different pitches in their repertoire, including this fastball, but mastering that many different pitches is not something everyone can do. Most major league pitchers rely on three different pitches at most, and a few do quite well by throwing only two types of pitches.

How Many Different Types of Pitches Are There in Baseball?

The number given for the different types of pitches used in major league baseball will depend upon who you talk to. Some baseball experts will tell you there are six basic pitches, others will say about a dozen, and still others will give you a number somewhere in between. One of the problems in coming up with a single number is that many of the pitches, as they approach the plate, move nearly, but not quite identically in the same manner. The movement of some pitches on the other hand is quite unique. If you take the movement of the baseball as it approaches the plate together with the grip that is required to throw it, you will come up with about a dozen different types of pitches.

What Are There Besides Fastballs and Curveballs?

There are three different categories of pitches, with a number of different types making up each category. First, there are the fastballs, which include the four-seam fastball, the two-seam fastball, the split-finger fastball or splitter, and the cut fastball or cutter. The two-seam fastball is sometimes referred to as a sinker. Then there are the pitches that feature significantly more movement. These include the curveball, the knuckleball, the screwball, the slider, and the slurve. The slider is a pitch that is somewhat between a fastball and a curveball, while the slurve is somewhat between a slider and curveball. Three other pitches, the changeup, the palmball, and the circle changeup are essentially fastballs that are thrown at a much slower speed to upset a batter's timing and cause him to swing too early.

How Many of These Pitches Will a Typical Ballplayer Use?

Most major league pitchers like to have at least three pitches they feel they have command over. Typically, these would be a fastball, a curveball, and either a changeup or a slider. Some do fine with just a couple of different pitches. A knuckleball pitcher may rely heavily on just that one pitch. Two of the more difficult pitches to master, which are also two of the more difficult pitches to hit, are the split-finger fastball and the cutter.

What Is It About the Cut Fastball or Cutter That Makes It Special?

A cutter acts almost, but not quite the same as a fastball. It is a little bit slower, which can throw a batter who has been thrown a series of fastballs off stride, although not so much as a changeup will tend to do. A cutter drops about the same as a two-seam fastball as it approaches the plate, and a bit more than a four-seam fast ball will. What makes it a totally different pitch however is the way it breaks to one side as it drops. A cutter thrown by a right-handed pitcher will break to the left. It can be a very effective pitch against a left handed batter as it will tend to move in towards him or 'jam' him, often forcing him to hit the ball off the handle of the bat rather than off the sweet spot on the bat. A cutter thrown by a right-handed pitcher will break out and away from a right -handed batter.

How Does One Throw a Cut Fastball?

This fastball is thrown just the same as a four-seam or two-seam fastball. In other words, the pitcher's motion is the same for all three pitches. The grip on the baseball is different however. The baseball is held as if a curveball or a slider is to be thrown. The index and middle fingers are placed just on the inside of the horseshoe seam, while the thumb is underneath and in contact with the smooth part of the baseball. The ball is squeezed between the thumb and the middle finger as it is delivered. As the ball leaves the hand, the middle finger should be pointed directly toward the batter.

If you regularly listen to baseball commentators calling a game, either on the radio or on TV, you won't hear the expression cut fastball or cutter all that often. While it can be a very effective pitch, it is a difficult one to learn to throw well. It can be a difficult pitch for a pitcher to locate, which means it will go where he wants it too. If not thrown correctly, this pitch has a tendency to hang. Instead of dropping rapidly, it will glide across the plate in a manner that makes it an easy pitch to hit. In that case, it is like a curveball that doesn't curve, which can also be an easy pitch to hit.

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