Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Blue Jays' Best Cutter

Well, we all know who had the best cutter in the Blue Jays organization for a long, long time. Then, the next best cutter was traded away for some Canadian kid that everyone's talking about these days.

Now, an organization that basically taught everyone the cutter is sorely lacking. Litsch and Cecil seem to be able to cut the ball a little bit, but neither player really relies on the pitch. Romero can work his fastball every which way, and Brandon Morrow did what? Watch out, American League!

As a tangent, I'll take a quick look at Morrow's cutter: 1.95 inches horizontal movement compared to 4.51 on his slider. The slider comes in around 88mph with 30 inches of drop (inc. gravity) with his cutter adding a couple more mph and subtracting about 10 inches of drop. With a sample size of about 100, it looks like Morrow was comfortable enough throwing it for strikes, and got batters to swing 51% of the time and swing-and-miss 12% of the time. Batters fouled off about 20% of the pitches and put another 20% into play. Thankfully, for the fly-ball machine, more than half of those balls in play were ground balls. 

Morrow's only thrown 100 of the pitches in game action so I feel good about his ability to improve his command and control of the pitch. Considering that Morrow's largely a fastball-slider pitcher, the cutter will go a long way to help him get opposite handers out and induce ground-balls. 

Casey Janssen provides an interesting case for the best cutter in the organization. He consistently throws it for strikes and often gets plenty of foul balls and called strikes despite his lacklustre 6.7% whiff rate. Ten-and-change percentage of his cutters are hit into the ground for relatively easy outs and he throws the pitch about 40% of the time. With great horizontal movement and good vertical movement, the 91mph is a dandy, despite average pitch values.

So who has the best cutter? Well, probably Janssen (or maybe even Morrow!) but I'm going to give the nod to the player received in the Halladay-deal, Kyle Drabek. In 2011, Drabek had huge issues with commanding his cutter, and tossed it for a ball 47% of the time, but the pitch is a 91.4mph beast that jumps out of his hand and barrels in on lefties.

Drabek's issues were across the board, not really cutter-specific, and he'll hopefully be able to fix 'em up this year. Considering his arsenal, especially with that cutter, he could still be a terrific player (if he can just throw fuckin' strikes).

Sorry for swearing, but I'm sure you feel me. For now, at least until I see Morrow's pitchf/x in 2012, I'm going to give it to Drabek. Brandon's got one hell of a shot to be a devastating pitcher this year, though. 

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