I have a kid that throws a pitch like you would throw a football. Doesn’t turn his hand over at all, just keeps his thumb inside, index and middle fingers on the outside. It has a sharp 1 to 7 O’Clock break.
We’ve been having a friendly argument over it. So I ask you guys. Is it a Slider or a Cutter?
The sharp late break is common to both pitches. The fact that he doesn’t turn his wrist at all would lead me to believe that he’s throwing a cutter, and it looks like a good one. Has he been studying the way Mariano Rivera throws his?
You know, I’ve been struggling with kids grasping the concept of the cutter in the past. They always get around the ball too much and it just spins in the zone. “Throw it like a football” seems to be an instruction they can understand more easily. I have two kids throwing it pretty successfully right now. I like that they don’t snap it. Seems to be relatively easy on the arm.
I agree that it sounds like a cutter, I have always thought that a cut fastball (cutter) and a slider have very similar grips, maybe the cutter has the thumb a little more on the side of the ball and the slider has the thumb a little more on the bottom…might just be my understanding of the pitch, but both have very similar movements.
I don’t know whether it works with low arm angles but that’s how I do it, the cutter and slider from exactly the same grip. It’s just a four-seam twisted inward to put the seam evenly under both fingers. You can change your mind mid-delivery…
The cutter I throw and release exactly like a fastball and it will float a few inches over without much drop if it’s good.
For the slider it’s the same rotated four-seam grip, but very slightly jerk over the wrist outward (twist, but jerk it) as the arm comes over. Like I’m sort of pump-faking a curveball as if the hitter can spot that. I seriously taught myself that way cause I kept trying to pronate between curveball and fastball/cutter, whatever. They’d end up like lame curveballs or just dying balls in the dirt.
You can also try a straight four-seam fastball, but all the way at release, use the middle finger pull at the bottom-outside corner of the ball instead of straight through. For a Righty that would be imagining yourself putting fully straight backspin but making your middle finger feel like it’s pulling straight down at 5 O’clock instead of 6. It’s not like you’re really releasing with your fingers those locations, you just want that sensation within a loose grip.
Maybe that’s like shifting your thumb, but I don’t even know which way cause that always feels wrong and it makes me grip just slightly harder.
You’re using the wrong grip.
When Ed Lopat was showing me how to throw that pitch he demonstrated a very much off-center grip—like a two-seamer but with the index and middle fingers very close together and the middle finger just touching one seam while the index finger was off the seam altogether, and the thumb underneath, resting on one seam. He told me to just roll my wrist, not snap it, and because I threw my curve ball with a sharp karate-chop wrist snap that meant I would have to ease up on it. No easy task, but I finally got the idea—think of a chef flipping a pancake or a crepe (yum), and that’s the easier wrist action that’s required for a slider. So basically I learned to throw it the way I would a curve ball but with that easier wrist action. Because I was a natural sidearmer that pitch had a sharp late break to it, and that confused and discombooberated the hitters something awful—especially when I used the crossfire!
Incidentally, it’s been demonstrated that a pitcher who’s having trouble with his or her curveball will do very well with the slider. 8)