ARLINGTON -- As a batter, Mike Pelfrey recently began noticing a trend throughout the league. He noted that many of the league's top left-handed pitchers were setting him up with cut fastballs inside, then catching him looking on four-seamers away.
"They looked like they were 100 feet outside," Pelfrey said, "and they were actually right down the middle."
After Randy Wolf fooled him using that method earlier this month in Milwaukee, Pelfrey approached teammate Carlos Beltran, picking the outfielder's brain on just how effective a good cut fastball can be. Very effective, Beltran replied. So Pelfrey next sought out pitching coach Dan Warthen to relay his plan.
"I've got to learn this cutter," Pelfrey told him.
Over the ensuing three weeks, Pelfrey has. Modeling his own cut fastball after that of teammate Jason Isringhausen, he began throwing the pitch to right-handed hitters earlier this month in Pittsburgh, and has since grown increasingly comfortable with it. In sum, he's thrown about a dozen cutters over his last three starts, using the pitch exclusively against right-handed batters.
In a wider scope, Pelfrey's adoption of the pitch represents just the latest manifestation of a baseball trend -- the cutter is officially in vogue. Earlier this season, Dillon Gee began throwing a cut fastball, joining a burgeoning legion of pitchers who rely on it.
For Pelfrey, the cutter provides a complement to his signature two-seam fastball, which -- when thrown right -- moves naturally in the opposite direction. The cutter has become the sixth true pitch in Pelfrey's arsenal, joining his two-seamer, four-seamer, slider, curveball and splitter.
"It's another weapon," He said. "I'll put it in their heads, hopefully get some outs with it, and it will be good."