Baltimore Orioles pitching guru (actual title: director of pitching development) Rick Peterson chatted with MASNSports.com about GM (actual title: Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations) Dan Duquette’s philosophy on the cut fastball. Steve Melewski first reported that Duquette had taken away the cut fastball from top prospect Dylan Bundy, allegedly his favorite pitch, which ruffled some feathers among Orioles fans.
“[We] don’t like it for young pitchers because it takes away from the development of their curveball, which is a better pitch long-term and also, the velocity of their fastball,” Duquette said. “So we encourage development of an overhand breaking ball that has depth along with command of their fastball and, of course, velocity and movement will get the hitter out.”
Peterson, who has quietly been credited for the transformation of the Orioles pitching staff, went into more detail in his explanation for the Orioles’ development strategy.
Why don’t you like use of the cut fastball?
“What happens is you start to get off to the side of the baseball (with your grip) and then you’re no longer consistently behind the baseball. Typically what we see is the more you throw that cutter, you can become dependent on it and you start to overuse it and typically what happens to guys that overuse the cutter is their fastball velocity drops. That has been consistent over the years.”
Peterson explains that cut fastball pitchers become too comfortable throwing the pitch at the big league level saying that some throw it upwards of 40 percent of the time. “There is no other pitch you would throw that often.” He explains that this causes a velocity drop for these pitchers.
I have heard that Oakland doesn’t like its young guys throwing too many curveballs?
“I was talking to Billy Beane the other day and he brought up (Kevin) Gausman. I said, ‘One of the things that makes him so special is that he developed his changeup over his curve in college.’ He said, ‘That’s the difference-maker.’ Oakland shares that same philosophy.”
Eno Sarris of FanGraphs examined the Orioles philosophy of cutting the cutter and determined that it “is a defensible stance, and one that is in the majority when it comes to minor league development.”
I tend to think that guys with a history of minor league development know more about which pitches work and which ones don’t than fans (like myself) do. So if DD and RP don’t like the cutter, then I’m going to trust it until it appears their plan didn’t work out.