Pitchers begin whittling their repertoire in Day 2 of Camp Clearwater.
The cut fastball has been a wild card pitch for the Phillies over the years. A number of pitchers have experimented with it with varied success, including Brett Myers, who started using it in 2005 and gradually phased it out. Ryan Madson will use it now and then with mixed results. J.A. Happ has an average cutter and will reportedly work to improve it this spring, along with a two-seamer. Much has been made of Kyle Kendrick’s improved change-up, which the right-hander hopes to turn into an out pitch, but he also worked to develop his cutter at Triple-A. Meanwhile, Cole Hamels will hone his curveball and plans for a cutter have been put on the backburner. Brad Lidge will scrap his cutter altogether after experimenting with it late last year.
We’ll be seeing many, many more cutters this year with the addition of Roy Halladay, who possesses one of the most lethal cutters in the game and threw it 41.5 percent of the time, according to Fangraphs. It's the reason he's so good against left-handed hitters. There’s something about a cutter-heavy righty that goes hand-in-hand with being a fast worker, which describes Halladay perfectly, a guy that pounds it inside until the hitter submits. Recall Jon Lieber’s first season with the club. Lieber was once like this; Lieber left town on a down note, but won 17 games his first season, the most by a Phillie since I started this site. Lieber, whose best pitch was a cut fastball that would bore in on left-handed hitter, was a fast worker who came right after the hitter. He was fun to watch when he first arrived in Philly. By the end, not so much.
If they’re not discussing cutters in Clearwater, it seems like they talking about splitters, in particular, Jose Contreras’ splitter, which Charlie Manuel and Ruben Amaro seem to think will be enough to neutralize left-handed hitters in the absence of a second lefty, according to Jim Salisbury's morning notes column.