April 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm by Ben Duronio under PITCHf/x
This is a pretty common misconception, and pretty much every article I read previewing the Braves says that he does throw a cutter. PITCHf/x picks up some of his four-seam fastballs as cutters, but this is simply the system miscategorizing the pitch. This could be a reason why his fastball is so good, that it does have cut-fastball tendencies, but he does not throw both pitches.
To explain, BIS and Brooks Baseball do not label Beachy with any cut-fastballs in his career. PITCHF/X tracked on Texas Leaguers and FanGraphs, however, has about 10% of his career pitches as cutters, with 22% of his pitches this year being of the cut-fastball variety. Don’t be fooled, it’s his four-seam fastball.
In looking at the speed of the two pitches, they are very close together. I do not know one starter who throws a cut-fastball faster than his four-seamer, yet this year PITCHf/x has his cutter at 91.3 mph and his four-seamer at 90.2 mph. For his career, his four-seamer is 91.7 mph and his cutter at 91.3 mph. There is usually a pretty decent drop off to a cutter from a four-seamer, yet there is virtually none when it comes to Beachy’s pitches.
Above is every pitch that Beachy has thrown in the majors. You can see the movement between the fastball and cutter is nearly identical, with the cutter having slightly less tail. The system reads his fastballs that tail less as cutters rather than just fastballs. He has a four-seamer that has tendencies of a cutter, but it is still the same pitch. Below is a look at Dan Haren, who has many different variations of his fastball. I only took Haren’s pitches for this year, since his career has been very long and looking at each pitch would create a lot of noise — he has also altered his repertoire.
As you can see, there is a pretty distinct difference between his cut-fastball and his four-seamer. His cutter drops and moves much more than his four-seam does. This is an instance where there are two different pitches, and it is clear that there are two. I can see why the system gets confused with Beachy, but it should be noted that the system is often wrong. The crew at Brooks Baseball has manually detailed each pitch and concluded that there is simply just a four-seamer. In watching Beachy, I never recall once seeing a cut-fastball. I have dug through google and searched to see any quote from Beachy saying that he throws a cutter and have come up with nothing. If you know of any time he stated this and can link me to the quote, I would greatly appreciate it. But from what I gather through the data, there is no cutter.
EDIT: Quote from Beachy on twitter:
Debate settled, though it is interesting that he throws an occasional two-seamer. Also, twitter is awesome.