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In baseball, a cutter, or cut fastball, is a type of fastball which breaks slightly as it reaches home plate. This pitch is somewhere between a slider and a fastball, as it is usually thrown faster than a slider but with more motion than a typical fastball. A common technique used to throw a cutter is to release a fastball with slight pressure from the tip of the middle finger.

Professional practitioners[]

The cut fastball is famously associated with Mariano Rivera, a relief pitcher for the New York Yankees. Rivera has become one of the best closers in Major League Baseball history by relying heavily on this pitch. Rivera's cutter is particularly effective because of the significant amount of movement (away from right handed batters and in on the hands of left handed batters) that he is able to achieve while still throwing the ball around 95 mph. Al Leiter rode his cutter to 162 career wins and a no-hitter. Esteban Loaiza effectively used a cutter to help him win 21 games in 2003.

Rivera's 2005 season showcased his cutter in perhaps its finest form since his earlier years. When the cutter is working correctly, mainly against left-handed batters, the pitch mercilessly cracks and splits a batter's bat. In one game against the Boston Red Sox on July 16, 2005, Rivera's cutter was so devastating that he managed to break two of Johnny Damon's bats in one at-bat, though that was not the record: Ryan Klesko, then of the Atlanta Braves, broke three in one at-bat during the 1999 World Series. Switch hitters have been known to bat right-handed against the right-handed Rivera (the "wrong" side; switch hitters generally bat from the side of home plate opposite to the pitcher's throwing hand) to avoid shattering their bats.[citation needed]

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