One of the beautiful elements of pitching is the vast number of ways pitchers can strikeout batters. Some rely on their heat, others may depend on a breaking pitch in the dirt or mix speeds with a change-up. David Price loves to strikeout batters with a 91 mph backdoor cutter, and it’s hard to blame him. Despite throwing it only 15.1 percent of the time, he has already tallied 6.5 runs above average for the nasty pitch in 2014, trailing only Adam Wainwright (15.3!) and Corey Kluber (8.5).
To get the full understanding of Price’s incredible cutter, check out this beauty he threw to Clint Barmes to end the fifth inning last week.
Imagine Barmes’s approach in this moment. It’s a 1-2 count with a man on first, and he had just swung through a change-up to get into the hole. While he’s expecting a fastball after the 86-mph change-up, he seems to guess correctly as Price delivers a pitch looking to end outside and well off the plate. Suddenly, the pitch bends towards Barmes, and barely clips the outside corner for the called strike three. Perfectly stunning. When executed flawlessly, this pitch is nearly unhittable, and when Price is performing at the top of his game, hitters simply don’t have a chance.
After sitting down 11 Pirates in Wednesday’s outing, Price pitched his fifth straight game with double-digit strikeouts, racking up 54 strikeouts in only 39.2 IP. Additionally, he managed to walk only 5 batters in that span, boosting his already excellent rates to a staggering 10.45 K/9 and 1.02 BB/9. While his 3.63 ERA may be unsettling, his xFIP sits at a low 2.54, and Price looks to be in the midst of a career year. He can thank his biting cutter for that.
Nick Pollack writes for Pitcher GIFs and can found making an excessive amount of GIFs on Twitter @PitcherGIFs.