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There is no cutter: A Kevin Gausman arsenal

Sometimes a pitcher can throw a certain pitch that looks like another pitch and it can be a bit misleading when you're watching him do it. Additionally, there will be reviews and articles written about that player which will talk about a certain pitch being thrown that isn't in his arsenal. That is the case with Baltimore Orioles top prospect Kevin Gausman and his slider being mistaken for the cutter.

Rob Carr

As with any top prospect, plenty of articles are written scouting reports published, and there is a whole lot of chatter in general. When that prospect is expected to be called up to make his major league debut, then the chatter increases exponentially.

In the case of Kevin Gausman, there was a piece written about him by JD Sussman of FanGraphs that gave us a pretty good review of his performance in the minors to this point and even went so far to say there’s really nothing else left for him to learn by being there. Apparently the Baltimore Orioles agree because he’s tentatively scheduled to make his major league debut against the Toronto Blue Jays Thursday night in Toronto.

There was one portion of Sussman’s piece that I found to be inaccurate though -- that portion is this:

Additionally, Gausman threw four cutters. Three were thrown in the high 80s but one was thrown at 93 MPH and was roped into the left center field gap by Slade Heathcott for a triple. The appearance of the cutter took me by surprise, given the Orioles’ stance against Dylan Bundy using the pitch.

I reached out to JD to find out why he thought Gausman was throwing a cutter in the start that he saw, and after speaking with him he stated that he actually asked a scout that was close by because he wasn’t quite sure himself. It’s easy for something like that to happen because it’s actually his least refined pitch.

Gausman’s slider sometimes doesn't have quite as much movement as you would expect from a slider, and with the velocity he can throw it at, it sometimes looks like a cutter.

To get a better idea about what Gausman throws, I reached out to Don Olsen, who does quite a bit of scouting and baseball analysis, to better clarify his actual arsenal since he has seen him more than a handful of times.

Kevin throws a 4S, 2S, split finger fastball, split finger change up, slider (w/power curve grip).

His pitches of choice right now are 4S, splitter, split-change, slider in that order.

From 300 ft up and back, it could look like a cutter with sink.

His high arm slot is ideal for both split finger fastball and split finger change. His high slot is important for depth on offerings.

I also reached out to Tucker Blair, a minor league contributor and scout for Baltimore Sports and Life about Gausman’s arsenal, since he has seen him nearly 10 times since he was drafted.

FB: 93-97 mph on the 4S and 2S is 90-94 with good life and movement. Very explosive with his FB, able to attack lower zone. Will touch 98 mph at times.
CH: 81-85 mph with good fade and depth. Hides it well against his fastball.
SL: 82-87 mph with good bite and tilt at times. Looks like a plus pitch, but does not have consistency yet. Will look like a cutter when the grip is tighter. This will usually sit at the higher end of his SL velocity. I'm not sure whether this is intentional or not, but it is clearly no Cutter, but just a different version of the SL.

As you can see from the brief reports from two individuals that have watched him pitch quite a bit Gausman doesn’t throw a cutter, but rather his slider can sometimes look like a cutter. Just as Neo was told at one point in time, there is no cutter.

You can follow me on Twitter @BSLLanceRinker, find out more about me by reading my BtBS bio, and even listen to my weekly podcast 'Bird Talk' that I host and produce -- we talk about the Baltimore Orioles.