The difference between a cutter and a slider

I made this GIF to point out the different movement between a cutter and a slider.

On the left is a cutter and the right is a slider.


Notice that the cutter looks like a fastball until the very end then abruptly breaks into the hitter’s hands. The slider on the other hand has some late movement as well, but the break is away and down.

The video clip isn’t clear enough to see if it is a slider or a curve. It is at least a slurve and not a pure slider.

I’m with CaDad, most pure slide pieces break right to left (For a righty pitcher), just a much harder break at less velo than a cutter. Matt Clemment, Carlos Zambrano have Bob Gibson lookin things…make a batter bail. A pitch that interests me and you see little discussion is the “backup slider” looks like slide piece acts like modified sinker.

It’s ok for sliders to have depth guys.

When Joe Nathan and Brad Lidge were throwing their sliders at their best they almost went straight down.

I agree Hammer–some sliders have tilt, others have more downward action. It’s more in the spin on the ball rather than the break.

The location of the pitch alters the break on the ball as well. When Rivera throws his cutter down in the zone it has more depth and resembles more of a slider…at 93+. That’s dirty.

i think its a slider, look at the timing when it hits the glove, sliders and cutters are fast, a curve wouldnt be that fast

It sure is a slider. Smoltzy throws a slider, not a curve.

I’m not worried about the plane of the pitch. Sliders can break down although most will break a little bit more sideways. The difference between a slider and a curve is that the curve is rolled out of the hand while the slider is thrown like a fastball, but with a twist of the wrist, and without rolling it. A lot of people throw something in between where they both roll it and add a little twist to it. It is hard to get a pure down break with a twist of the wrist since by definition the fingers are going around the ball and not getting on top of it the way they would when you roll a curve.

I threw a 12-6 curve and a slider from an over the top slot and although my slider broke down a little bit it mostly broke sideways because I was throwing a pure slider. There were days when I got more break on the slider but that was because I was throwing more of a slurve that day. You’d really have to see the clip well enough to see if Smoltz’s fingers are on top of the ball at release or not. If they are on top then he’s throwing a very hard curve or a slurve and not a pure slider.

You can’t go by what people call a pitch. I don’t know how many announcers I’ve heard call Frankie Rodriguez’ hard curve a slider.

Smoltz’s breaking ball is around 84-86 on the gun, so it’d be hard pressed for me to call that pitch a curveball. FRod’s is around 80, which would be more of a curve.

House has three pictures up in his lab in San Diego showing Smoltz throwing. The point of these pictures is to show how Smoltz throws all three pitches with the same release point, mechanics, etc., when he throws. Those three pitches? Fastball, Slider, Circle-Change.

Smoltz has one of the best splitters in the game too. I don’t think he throws too many change ups.

I’m pretty sure Smoltz throws a split, not a circle change.

Beat me to it Palo.

But he does throw those three out of the same slot with the same mechanics.

I’m pretty sure Smoltz throws a split, not a circle change.[/quote]

Errr, yea I was just about to edit that, lol. I just looked at the pictures.

It’s definitely a slider. The original video I used to make the clip had the pitch at 87 MPH. The cutter was at 89 MPH. There’s more downward movement than usual because of the location of the pitch. I should have used a clip of a slider with a higher location.

Here is what Smoltz’ curve looks like, though, for those who wonder if he throws one. He rarely uses it however.

[quote=“Hammer”]It’s ok for sliders to have depth guys.

When Joe Nathan and Brad Lidge were throwing their sliders at their best they almost went straight down.[/quote]

There’s only one way a ball can break straight down, and that’s by having 12-to-6 spin. And the only way to get that kind of spin is to get the TOP of the ball going DOWN at release. And the only way to do that is to get an early start in positioning the hand for release. That is going to KILL the velocity. This is why down-breaking curveballs are typically very slow.

A properly thrown slider is going to have the pitcher position his hand for release VERY LATE in the delivery. This allows him to “stay behind” the ball longer, creating more velocity. This late slicing of the ball at release is, out of necessity, done more on the SIDE of the ball. This creates significant side spin - which is characteristic of a properly thrown slider.

If a slider is breaking straight down, it’s probably not a pure slider. It can’t be!

David Emerling
Memphis, TN

If you re-read my post you’ll notice that I mentioned that their sliders go “ALMOST” straight down. Ofcourse they will have some side to side.

I also don’t understand why some people consider slider rotation “side spin”. To me, side spin means sideways rotation on the baseball. Which would be the rotation of a sidearm curveball with your fingers on the side of the ball. Slider rotation is like that of a thrown football. As the axis of the ball changes, so will the type of break.

[quote=“Hammer”]If you re-read my post you’ll notice that I mentioned that their sliders go “ALMOST” straight down. Ofcourse they will have some side to side.

I also don’t understand why some people consider slider rotation “side spin”. To me, side spin means sideways rotation on the baseball. Which would be the rotation of a sidearm curveball with your fingers on the side of the ball. Slider rotation is like that of a thrown football. As the axis of the ball changes, so will the type of break.[/quote]

I agree, but a properly thrown slider simply must have some sidespin. Sure, some players get more than others; usually because of their arm slot.

The issue is one mostly of velocity, not orientation of spin. An overhand pitcher, who has a slider that is breaking straight down, is probably not getting the velocity on that pitch that he needs - in order for it to qualify as a slider.

If a pitcher who has a 90mph fastball and can find a way to throw an 87mph slider that breaks straight down - more power to him. That is very unusual not to mention not even typical, or even possible. My guess is that if it’s breaking straight down, it’ll probably, at best, be 80mph … and that’s very curveball-like, probably characterized as a “hard curve.”

Most 90mph fastball pitchers who throw a curve throw it in the mid to high 70’s. I’ve seen some in the high-60’s. An 80mph curveball would be an extreme oddity.

David Emerling
Memphis, TN