Wacha unveils new cutter in first outing

Right-hander perfecting pitch as complement to repertoire

March 8th, 2016

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Introducing the still-developing cutter that he toyed with this winter and has been modifying during bullpen sessions this spring, Michael Wacha made his spring debut on Tuesday with a flash of the efficiency that he hopes the new pitch can bring.

Wacha finished his prescribed two innings in the Cardinals' 5-3 win over the Twins having thrown 28 pitches, 19 of which were strikes. Minnesota tallied consecutive singles to open the bottom of the first and turned that into an early run, but Wacha did not allow another ball to leave the infield.

Cardinals rally past Twins after Wacha's debut

Wacha closed his appearance with a cutter, on which he induced a groundout by Ryan Sweeney.

"It's still definitely a work in progress," Wacha said of the cutter. "It's coming out of the hand nice. It doesn't have the command that I want on it yet, but the action is there that I want. It's coming along exactly how I want it to be, and I think it will be an effective pitch for me."

The added pitch, if Wacha can master it, would help him get hitters away from sitting on his fastball and changeup, the two pitches Wacha relies upon most heavily. The Cardinals believe the pitch is one Wacha could use to get early contact, which could lead to shorter innings and longer starts.

Spring Training information

Last season, Wacha averaged 16.2 pitches per inning, the fourth-highest average in the team's five-man rotation.

"Michael has never had a problem with strikeouts with that changeup and fastball being such good pitches, but the curveball and the cutter have come such a long ways that it just deepens what the thought process has to be for the offense," manager Mike Matheny said. "For us, running a pitcher like Michael deeper into the game is going to help our odds of winning."

Wacha, who worked out with former teammate Shelby Miller in Texas during the offseason, said that the two talked about grips and the thought process behind the pitch. Since reporting to Spring Training, Wacha has experimented with grips that some of his current teammates use in order to find what fits him best.

What he has settled on is not all that different than the grip he utilized when he featured a slider as part of his repertoire in college.

Now, the task is to zero in on command.

"I feel like I could throw it in there down the middle if I wanted to," Wacha said. "But I want it to be where I want it to be, down in the zone and on the corners."