Fantasy BaseballJosh Kay

2013 Fantasy Baseball: Trevor Cahill and the Cutter

Source: Jason O. Watson/Getty Images North America

A pitcher’s arsenal consists of pitches, and when month to month variance or year to year variance occurs the most natural thing to do is look at individual pitch usage and pitch success or failure instead of analyzing the baseline sabermetric stats. The best tool for this is, which I will use in all of my Pitch Mix Palooza articles to aid in the explanation of past performances and the prognostication of future performances for pitchers.

The cutter has taken baseball by storm the past couple of years, and it seems as if Trevor Cahill is the latest to take it to heart. Following his three years in Oakland, Trevor Cahill joined the Arizona Diamondbacks for the 2012 season, and he recorded his best peripherals and best ERA (and xFIP) of his career. For those of you referencing his 2010 season, his luck factors were high and his 2.97 ERA was not supported by his 3.79 xERA. In 2012 however, his ERA of 3.78 was high, considering his 3.65 xERA.

As previously mentioned, the angle I will be taking in dissecting improvements will be pitch mix. In 2012, June, August, and Sept/Oct were Cahill’s best months.  His K/9 for all of 2012 was 7.0/9, but in June it was 7.34/9, August 8.02/9 and in Sept/Oct 8.13/9. In 2012, Cahill introduced a cutter into his arsenal and he used it 11% of the time throughout the course of the season. Hoping to find a pattern, I searched his pitch mix for each of the three months his strikeout rate was highest. Sure enough, they were the months he used his cutter most often! In June he used it 14%, August 15%, and in Sept/Oct he used it 16% of the time!

The cutter was Cahill’s second best pitch in 2012 (.219 TAv), nearly as effective as his awesome curveball (.160 TAv). The cutter also gives Cahill three plus offerings, all with whiff rates of over 15%; curveball, changeup, and now cutter.

Other than his increase in strikeouts, Cahill added an extra 6% to groundballs and decreased his line drive rate by 3%. This can also be attributed to the cutter, as Cahill had a 55% groundball rate and 14% line drive rate on it throughout the season.

If he utilizes his cutter more often and can reign in the homers (12% HR/FB), Cahill has serious upside heading into 2013. Serious enough upside to possibly re-create 2010 (3.00 ERA) with peripherals that actually back it up!

Written by Josh Kay exclusively for Find Josh on Twitter @JoshKay_Fantasy.

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