I’m in the midst of my pitch review series, taking a look at the best of each pitch type from last season, and today we’re going to take a look at the best cutters from 2019, ranked by pVAL.
But enough introduction: Let’s get to the pitches!
No. 5: Will Harris
Will Harris was an exceptionally solid reliever for the Houston Astros last year, posting a 1.50 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 27.1% strikeout rate over 60 innings.
As is common for relievers like Harris, he only throws two pitches, and they’re both very good. First, there’s this pitch, his cutter, which posted an 11% SwStr rate, .292 wOBA against, and .129 ISO against last year, along with a 10.2 pVAL.
Then he’s got a curveball, which posted a solid 32.2% chase rate, 14.1% SwStr rate, .164 wOB against, and .058 ISO against last year, with a 7.1 pVAL. That’s all he’s got, but that’s all he needs.
No. 4: Alex Colome
Alex Colome defied his peripherals last year on his way to another solid year as the closer for the Chicago White Sox, posting a 2.80 ERA despite a 4.08 FIP and 4.38 SIERA; the last two indicators really scare me for his value in 2020.
Colome exclusively throws fastballs; two of them, in fact. He’s got a four-seamer that’s not great but totally serviceable, posting a .234 BAA, but also a really bad .277 ISO against.
And then he has this cutter, the pitch he throws more than anything, and with good reason. The pitch was nearly a Money Pitch last year, posting a 39.5% chase rate, 38.2% zone rate, 15.2% SwStr rate, a .226 wOBA against, and a .127 ISO against. Even if his four-seamer doesn’t work that well, this cutter certainly does.
No. 3: Ryan Yarbrough
What an interesting year for Ryan Yarbrough. His numbers weren’t all that great, with a 4.13 ERA and 20.8% strikeout rate, but his 3.55 FIP is encouraging. It’ll all just depend on how the Tampa Bay Rays use him. He did log 141.2 innings last year, but he was frequently used as an opener or as part of bullpen games.
His repertoire is pretty solid, though. He’s got a really nice changeup that had a 48.1% chase rate and 18.1% SwStr rate last year, with an 11.1 pVAL, and he’s got a decent slider.
He’s also got this cutter, his most-thrown pitch. While it wasn’t a swing-and-miss pitch, it did work decently at inducing weak contact, posting a .271 wOBA and .153 ISO against last year.
No. 2: Jeff Samardzija
Old Loose Lips is still kicking around, and he was surprisingly good last year in his age-34 season, posting a 3.52 ERA, though that came with a 4.92 SIERA and a pretty bad 18.9% strikeout rate.
Samardzija has a fairly deep repertoire, throwing six different pitches, but really only three of them are any good: His four-seamer, slider, and this cutter.
Last year, the cutter had a .244 wOBA against, though a not-super-great .168 ISO against. Still, it worked and accumulated a 13.2 pVAL, the best pVAL he had last year and the best pVAL he’s had in his entire career.
No. 1: Martin Perez
If you’ve been following Martin Perez lately, this shouldn’t be a shock to you at all. I took a look at Perez’s cutter that he introduced last year, which helped propel him to a really good start to the season.
However, that good start didn’t hold up, as one pitch does not a great pitcher make. Perez fell apart, ultimately posting a 5.12 ERA, 5.01 SIERA, and 18.3% strikeout rate.
That’s because his only good pitch is this cutter; everything else was very bad. But this cutter was excellent, posting a 36% chase rate, .272 wOBA against, and a .128 ISO against, on its way to a 13.8 pVAL. So while the rest of his repertoire is pretty much trash, he’s got the best cutter in baseball, and I guess that counts for something.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)