A pitcher in baseball should be capable of throwing various types of pitches. Of all the different types of pitches, the most important one is undoubtedly the fastball. The fastball, though, is further subdivided into different styles, and today we take a look at one of them - the cutter, also known as the cut fastball. The ability to throw a cutter is probably the most important ingredient to become a successful pitcher. This type of fastball takes a change in direction, with the speed almost the same as a conventional fastball.
The movement of a cutter is somewhat similar to the slider, but with a shorter breaking distance. If you pitch it correctly, it should move away from the batter. As is the case with all pitches, the grip is important. Now, we will see exactly how does one go about throwing a cutter correctly.
The two most important things in learning this particular technique are learning the grip, and learning how to release the pitch. You need to grip the ball with your fingers on the sides of the seam, so that the ball is released with some spin. Let's take a step-by-step look:
The first step is about gripping the ball right. There are a number of different grips used for throwing different types of pitches. We suggest you to hold the ball in such a way that your index and middle fingers are perpendicular to the horseshoe end of the seam, with your middle finger near the closer side of the seam.
In a normal fastball, the thumb holds the ball from below, and this gives speed to the ball. The position of the thumb, while throwing a cutter, should be at the side of the ball. This brings some balance to the grip. The ring finger can also be used to hold the ball from the other side, to provide more balance.
The next thing is the pitch delivery. Throw the ball just like a normal fastball. The speed also should be like the usual fastball. The trick is to press the ball with the middle finger in the throwing action. Doing this will give the ball the required side swing, and the ball will deceive the hitter by swinging away from him.
The release of the ball is as important as the rest of the process. Practice the release with different degrees of pressure on the ball with your middle finger. Maintaining the speed is also important. Only with regular practice can you develop your own style of throwing a cutter.
Throwing a Cutter like Mariano Rivera
Mariano is the undisputed king of the cutter. The reason his cutter is so good, and fools the best of hitters, is that the swing of the ball takes place late; and hence, the hitter has almost no time to interpret this. His secret is in the snap of his wrist at the time of release. Of course, just by snapping your wrist, you won't master the pitch like Rivera. It takes years and years of practice and training to be able to throw a cutter like Rivera. You can try practicing by keeping your fingers a little off-center and turning your wrist at the time of release.
Do not get discouraged if you are met with little success on your first few tries; remember, it takes a lot of practice until you can develop your own way of throwing a cutter. If you are serious about becoming a pitcher, or if you just want to add the cutter to your repertoire of pitching skills, practice is the best solution.
Throwing a cutter is similar to throwing a sinker, or any other baseball pitch for that matter. As they say, 'practice makes man perfect', so go ahead and use these tips, and perfect your fastball cutter.