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Entries in cutter (9)


Hellickson's Gem

Jeremy Hellickson held the Yankees to just three hits in his first start of 2012, nearly throwing a complete game in the process.

Jeremy Hellickson vs. New York Yankees (4/8/2012)In 2011, Hellickson threw just 37 cutters, 1.3% of his total pitches. Yesterday afternoon, the young righty threw 20 cutters out of his 118 total pitches.

Jeremy Hellickson's Cutter vs. New York Yankees (4/8/2012)Most of the cutters on the left side of the graphic were to lefty batters. Hellickson affectively got the pitch in on Yankee lefties resulting in no hits and just one walk. While it's too early and too small a sample size to judge whether his cutter will continue to work for him, it's a good sign for the Rays if their young starter has mastered another pitch.


Mariano Rivera Versus Lefties

Yankees' closer Mariano Rivera notched his 602nd career save yesterday, making him the all time saves leader.  And he did it much like the 601 that came before.  Rivera has been as close to a constant that the game of baseball has seen in the last two decades.

This year, Mariano Rivera has mostly been his usual dominant self, although he's had a few rough outings scattered throughout.  Looking at his splits, it seems like lefties, against which he is usually deadly, have hit him a bit better.

First, let's compare his pitch location from this season to the previous three:

Mariano Rivera
(Click image to enlarge)

There isn't a tremendous difference, although you can see a bit more pitches out over the middle of the plate this season. 

Mariano Rivera Overall

The one thing that stands out is the jump in batting average on balls in play. It's always difficult to determine whether a BABIP jump is a result of decreased effectiveness or luck. For relievers, the sample size is fairly low for one season making it even more difficult to surmise.

However, we do know that it is mostly left-handed batters that account for the BABIP jump.

Mariano Rivera vs. LHB

Opposing left-handed batters have seen more than a 65 point jump in BABIP against Rivera this season. From 2008-2010, lefties had a 17.5% line drive rate. This season, it is up to 21.5%. This is hardly enough of a bump in such a small period of time to suggest Rivera is getting hit harder. So while it's possible more lefty batters have been squaring him up better, the increase in BABIP is probably more a product of luck than anything else. When coupled with the fact that his strikeout rate against LHB has been 21.7% this season, which is unchanged from his previous three year average, it is even more likely that we're not seeing an actual decline in effectiveness versus lefties.


A Brew Cut

Milwaukee Brewers starter Shaun Marcum is holding opposing batters to a .218 wOBA on his cutter, fourth lowest among all pitchers that have thrown the pitch at least 150 times in 2011.  Marcum is throwing it at about the same rate as he did last year, but with much better results. 

In 2010, Marcum threw 466 cutters and batters hit .244 with a .407 slugging percentage off them.  Overall, they put up a .293 wOBA against Marcum’s cutter last season.  This season, however, Marcum has already thrown 587 cutters and batters are hitting just .173 against them with a miniscule .228 SLG. 

One of the biggest reasons for the improvement has been a reduction in home runs coming off the pitch.  Last season, Marcum had an 8.2% HR/FB rate on his cutter; this season it is down to just 1.8%, as he’s yielded just one cutter induced HR in 177 plate appearances decided on the pitch.