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Martin Perez and a Cutter’s Birth

For many Twins fans, the signing of Martin Perez wasn’t viewed in a positive light. The left-handed hurler had struggled in recent years with Texas. So far this season, he’s turned into one of the bright spots on a very strong Twins team.

One pitch has made all the difference for Mr. Perez.
Image courtesy of Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Maybe fans shouldn’t have doubted the Twins front office. Thad Levine was very familiar with Perez from his own days in the Rangers front office. Before joining the Twins, Derek Falvey might have been best known for what he was able to do with the Cleveland pitching staff.

Everything’s Bigger in Texas
Perez was a regular part of the Ranger’s rotation from 2016-2017. During that time, he averaged over 190 innings per season, but he struggled to get consistent outs. He ranked near the top of the league in earned runs allowed and walks. Also, he wasn’t striking out batters on a consistent basis. He averaged just over five strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

Statcast paints an even bleaker picture of what he was doing on the mound. His XBA ranked in the bottom 6% in the league for three consecutive seasons. In his last full season as a starter, his XSLG was in the bottom 7% of the league and his WOBA was in the bottom 1% of league. His strikeout percentage was also in the bottom 7% of the league for three straight seasons.

Moving to the bullpen in 2018 didn’t help many of his numbers. His WHIP ballooned to 1.78, a career high. His strikeout and walk rates also stayed nearly the same. Perez’s hits per nine and home runs per nine average jumped to twice his career average.

It was time for a change.

The Birth of a Cutter
During spring training, Perez got some advice from Johan Santana and Jake Odorizzi. From this advice, he was able to add a cut fastball that has kept batters off-balance. This pitch has become a secret weapon as hitters have been unable to solve this new addition to his pitching repertoire.

Perez has thrown his new found pitch 34.8% of the time this season. He has 39 strikeouts and 13 of them have been as a result of the cutter. When facing Houston’s potent line-up, he limited the Astros to four hits over eight shutout innings. In that start, he threw his cutter on 43 of his 100 pitches.

Perez seemed to put it all together on Monday night against Toronto. He collected a season high nine strikeouts in seven shutout innings. Five of his nine strikeouts came on the cutter. Out of his 102 pitches against the Blue Jays, he threw his cutter 34 times. Blue Jays hitters only managed one hit against the cutter.

Will Perez be able to keep this up in the months and weeks ahead? Will the league eventually be able to figure him out? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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24 Comments

I believe Martin Perez's cutter is here to stay, and that it will in fact get better as the season wears on. I remember Santana's repertoire, but Martin's cutter reminds me more of Liriano's wipe-out slider, the one that would sometimes hit a right handed batter in the rear foot. Perez's cutter slices and dives a lot like Liriano's slider, but Perez throws it at 89 to 91mph, where Liriano's slider was usually arriving at 89. Perez also scatters his cutter around the zone, where Lirano's slider was strictly lower right corner, or just below and inside. 

 

Perez's repertoire could get even better. We can see that his fastball command has vastly improved, even as he added more heat. But wait, there's more! Perez has yet to explore his use of the change up, which his better command may enhance. I saw him throw one outside to a rightie a game or so ago...it faded away and sank, almost like Johan's change. If Perez adds that weapon, he might have three plus pitches in his mix. At that point, he could become a Cy Young candidate. 

 

And another case of beer for Wes Johnson.

    • glunn, birdwatcher, brvama and 7 others like this
Photo
Original Whizzinator
May 09 2019 03:07 AM
WJ for president! I mean really my neck it's stiffening up. I didn't realise how much I relied on the previous regime to keep it loose. Might have to take up yoga.

In this modern age of cameras and analytics I'm sure teams will figure out his cutter. Enjoy this run while it lasts because it's unlikely to continue.

I really hope people continue to doubt Perez.

I really hope people continue to doubt Perez.


Who's doubting him now? Fans that were disappointed in the signing this winter (myself included) had no way of knowing he was going to transform into a new pitcher. We should be thankful he worked with Johan in spring training to master the new pitch.

Man, judging by that gif, he releases it exactly the same, time after time after time. 

    • Riverbrian, Taildragger8791, snotboogie and 1 other like this

 

In this modern age of cameras and analytics I'm sure teams will figure out his cutter. Enjoy this run while it lasts because it's unlikely to continue.

 

Thanks to all this modern age technology there can never again be good pitching. 

    • USAFChief, Ex-Iowegian, MN_ExPat and 1 other like this

 

In this modern age of cameras and analytics I'm sure teams will figure out his cutter. Enjoy this run while it lasts because it's unlikely to continue.

 

Especially, if he is reliant on the cutter to get outs.Perez has the arsenal to get batters out a couple of different ways.If he can command his fastball, throw the changeup and/or curve for strikes, and have a wipe out cutter, that should be enough to keep batters guessing and off balance.

Photo
Parker Hageman
May 09 2019 08:39 AM

my favorite storyline of perez's cutter is that his agent is claiming adding the pitch was wholly his idea and not the Twins. here he is jumping into aaron gleeman's thread regarding the pitch's inception:

 

Attached Image: perez agent.PNG

 

it takes a village to raise a new pitch. there's probably credit to go around. odorizzi helped him tweak the grip. the twins staff -- wes and jeremy hefner -- undoubtedly provided the data and video to help perfect it. and perez committed to it. 

 

in late march it was apparent that this pitch was going to be special. i really liked watching how hanley ramirez responded to it back in the dugout after chasing one up in the zone. glen perkins jumped in and noted that ramirez is telling the bench that the pitch just spun and the swing, which was well under it, looked as if he was expecting a slider drop. 

 

 

what it accomplishes is now perez has a pitch that stays in the zone (unlike his slider) so now hitters have to be prepared to defend both sides of the plate whereas before righties could cheat away and spit on things breaking in. 

 

one thing that will be interesting to see is when/if perez starts seeing hitters multiple times in the season if they will start to adjust to that pitch (expecting it to maintain up instead of biting like a slider). 

    • PseudoSABR and MN_ExPat like this
Maybe those that feel this addition to Perez repertoire will be short lived as teams see more of it could enlighten me. Wouldn't that be the case of every pitcher and each of their pitches? Of course if one knows its coming then the pitch's effectiveness would/should decline substantially. But then again if one has excellent command and control of the pitch there's a chance batters still couldn't hit it, as with M Rivera's cutter. So isn't that the real basis of good pitching - command and control along with good game calling?
    • MN_ExPat likes this

 

Thanks to all this modern age technology there can never again be good pitching. 

How true.Modern age technology allowed the Twins to even figure out Verlander, and crush him 1-0!

    • USAFChief, luckylager, Han Joelo and 2 others like this

I'm guessing that 0.1% slider was a misclassified cutter/s, if that's the kind of movement he's getting on that sucker.

 

There's no question that he's showing a much more effective pitch mix. I'm sure there will be some regression as teams get more tape on it, but he's got the velocity (increased velocity) on the 4-seamer to be effective there too, he seems to be locating his change well, and they're not teeing off on the sinker, so even with better analysis it doesn't change the fact that he's got 4 pitches to work with on a hitter.

 

I was lukewarm at best on signing perez. felt pretty "meh" at the time, one of those "I know this guy, I'm sure I can get more out of him" moves that always drove me crazy when the Wolves did it, but proof is in the pudding.

 

And it's hilarious that his agent is claiming credit for telling him to start throwing a cutter, wtf is that BS?

    • MN_ExPat likes this
Photo
woolywoolhouse
May 09 2019 10:32 AM
Homer Simpson: "That's right, it's called a Flaming Hom..."

Felix Olivo: "Felix. A Flaming Felix. I invented it and my name is Felix, that's why it's called a Flaming Felix."
    • Parker Hageman, luckylager, Han Joelo and 3 others like this

The Martin Perez signing thread is chock full of damning evidence that does contain a few meh's, but mostly some incredibly harsh criticism of the signing.And a couple of intrepid defenders.You all know who you are.I think I unfortunately did not document my strong endorsement of the signing, though...

 

Really, though, it's neither here nor there--we were all right!And that is why baseball is fun--it is unpredictably predictable, and chock-full of known unknowns and even unknown unknowns.And maybe a few known knowns, like the rules regarding retaliation pitches and homerun celebrations.

 

Dare I say that Falvine has unearthed our Arrieta?Or our Arietta?Arrietta?Aarietaa?  

    • MN_ExPat likes this

 

my favorite storyline of perez's cutter is that his agent is claiming adding the pitch was wholly his idea and not the Twins. here he is jumping into aaron gleeman's thread regarding the pitch's inception:

 

attachicon.gifperez agent.PNG

 

it takes a village to raise a new pitch. there's probably credit to go around. odorizzi helped him tweak the grip. the twins staff -- wes and jeremy hefner -- undoubtedly provided the data and video to help perfect it. and perez committed to it. 

 

in late march it was apparent that this pitch was going to be special. i really liked watching how hanley ramirez responded to it back in the dugout after chasing one up in the zone. glen perkins jumped in and noted that ramirez is telling the bench that the pitch just spun and the swing, which was well under it, looked as if he was expecting a slider drop. 

 

 

what it accomplishes is now perez has a pitch that stays in the zone (unlike his slider) so now hitters have to be prepared to defend both sides of the plate whereas before righties could cheat away and spit on things breaking in. 

 

one thing that will be interesting to see is when/if perez starts seeing hitters multiple times in the season if they will start to adjust to that pitch (expecting it to maintain up instead of biting like a slider). 

 

I was going to say that his cutter looks a lot like a slider. Same football grip and release. 

    • MN_ExPat likes this

The Martin Perez signing thread is chock full of damning evidence that does contain a few meh's, but mostly some incredibly harsh criticism of the signing. And a couple of intrepid defenders. You all know who you are. I think I unfortunately did not document my strong endorsement of the signing, though...

Really, though, it's neither here nor there--we were all right! And that is why baseball is fun--it is unpredictably predictable, and chock-full of known unknowns and even unknown unknowns. And maybe a few known knowns, like the rules regarding retaliation pitches and homerun celebrations.

Dare I say that Falvine has unearthed our Arrieta? Or our Arietta? Arrietta? Aarietaa?


We as fans can only go off public information out there. His past history wasn't good. At a crossroads in his career. With the new pitch mix and cutter thrown 35% of the time we can pretty much toss his past performance in the garbage. He's a completely different pitcher.

Who's doubting him now? Fans that were disappointed in the signing this winter (myself included) had no way of knowing he was going to transform into a new pitcher. We should be thankful he worked with Johan in spring training to master the new pitch.


In every thread on here about Perez, there is inevitably a post or two similar to the one above mine that you quoted:

"Enjoy this run while it lasts because it's unlikely to continue."

We as fans can only go off public information out there. His past history wasn't good. At a crossroads in his career. With the new pitch mix and cutter thrown 35% of the time we can pretty much toss his past performance in the garbage. He's a completely different pitcher.


True, but, being the 8th ranked prospect in all of baseball at one time is also part of that history.
For me, there was no way the FO signed him to just continue putting up the numbers he had been. The ONLY way it made sense to me is if the FO clearly thought they saw some things they could tweak, which was my argument when they signed him.
Of course, there was no guarantee those tweaks were going to work, but I was happy to at least see them attempt it.
    • MN_ExPat likes this

The big question, for me, is will teams adjust to his new pitch and his performances will drop off some.I expect there will be some adjustment and drop off, but hope it will not be as big of a drop off.Regardless ride his hot start as far as you can.I believe his velocity is also up, based on change in his stride from Wes Johnson.I could be wrong on that, but I thought I heard Perez was one pitcher he changed up the stride to get more velocity. 

Perez has had hot streaks before. Last year, he was good in June and August. In 2017, he was bad in the middle of the year but OK otherwise. In 2016 he was great in May but cancelled that out with a terrible July.

 

The difference between a #1/#2 starter and the rest is sustained success. They all have hot streaks. Let's see how Perez looks in a couple more months.

The difference between a #1/#2 starter and the rest is sustained success. They all have hot streaks.

Still waiting for Ricky Nolasco's 3-game hot streak with the Twins, on a par with Perez's. :)

 

Still waiting for Ricky Nolasco's 3-game hot streak with the Twins, on a par with Perez's. :)

 

Capture.png

 

Capture.png

He had a couple of very good September games in a row, but lacked a signature third one that our guy Martin has given us. It's true, that September (actually very late August also) was Ricky's high-water mark as a Twin. Good times.

He wasn't a Twin during the time period of the image I posted.

 

The point is, every pitcher has good stretches or he would not be in the majors for very long.


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