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The Beckett Cutter

Brian MacPherson at the ProJo Sox Blog wonders if Josh Beckett will keep his cutter under new pitching coach Curt Young:

When looking at Beckett's season, the number of cutters he threw stands out right away. The number of changeups stands out, too. The number of fastballs he threw, predictably, dropped from more than 67 percent down to 54 percent. The number of curveballs he threw dropped, too.

"He had time to sit when he was hurt, and he was watching Lester and Buchholz throwing those cutters," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "All of a sudden, he started doing that. He'd throw one good one, then he'd throw three bad ones. But that happens. They're human. That's a part of what makes the game interesting."

Beckett's cutter worked well against right-handed batters, as he kept the pitch away:

Josh Beckett, cut fastball versus right-handed batters, 2010That led to a .269/.316/.365 slash line.  Against left-handed batters, however, he left pitches over the plate.

Josh Beckett, cut fastball versus left-handed batters, 2010The lefties ended up slugging .564 against him on his cutters.  Maybe Josh should simply stop throwing them to lefties.



Edinson's Adjustment

With Edinson Volquez signing with the Reds today, Cincinnati avoided arbitration with all their eligible players.  The Reds hope their young right-hander returns to his 2008 form, which yielded a 3.21 ERA as he posted a 17-6 record.  Despite not pitching much in the last two season, Volquez made an adjustment that should help in the long run.

In 2008, Edinson avoided the center of the plate when pitching against left-handed batters:

Edinson Volquez, pitch frequency vs. LHB, 2008Lefties only managed a .246/.340/.356 slash line against Volquez that year.  He walked a few, but with low power, that didn't hurt him much.

Since that season, however, Volquez stopped throwing inside to lefties:

Edinson Volquez, pitch frequency vs. RHB, 2009-2010This pattern produced a slash line with a higher OBP, but lower contact numbers, .217/.344/.328.  That seems to be a worthwhile tradeoff if Volquez can keep that pattern going.


The Next Cain?

Andrew Cashner made is major league debut for the Cubs in 2010 and his performance was less than stellar.  He walked a high number of batters and gave up eight home runs in just 54 1/3 innings. He only allowed three home runs in his three seasons in the minors.  Andrew also showed improving control as he progressed through the Cubs system, so there is hope for the first round pick improving in the future.

One trait Cashman showed which I believe will benefit him in his career is a rising pitch:

Andrew Cashner pitch movement, 2010.Note that this graph does not show his pitches actually rising.  His pitches drop less than expected, and that can cause a batter to get under a ball too much.  The above chart reminds me of Matt Cain:

Matt Cain pitch movement, 2008-2010.During the playoffs, I discussed how Matt's movement helps keep his home run rate low despite a high percentage of fly balls.  Andrew actually did a good job of keeping the ball on the ground in 2010, with 50% of the balls in play against him grounders.  As his career progresses, I'm curious to see if his rising pitches turn most of his fly balls into outs, or if outbound windy days at Wrigley field take their toll.

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