The Orioles don’t want their pitchers throwing cut fastballs

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The cut fastball has certainly increased in popularity over the last several years, not only as the pitch that made Mariano Rivera but also as a go-to offering for starters like Roy Halladay and Jon Lester. The Orioles, though, don’t want their young pitchers throwing cutters, feeling it will take away from their other pitches.

Former A’s and Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson, now Baltimore’s director of pitching development, offered his thoughts on the cutter to MASN’s Steve Melewski:

Typically what we see is the more you throw that cutter, you can become dependent on it and you start to overuse it and typically what happens to guys that overuse the cutter is their fastball velocity drops. That has been consistent over the years.

I’m not saying the cutter is not a good pitch, don’t misunderstand me. A cutter used effectively is a nice addition to your arsenal. But a cutter thrown 40 percent of the time for a young power pitcher can become a crutch, then your velocity drops and you fail to develop your changeup and a breaking ball that has depth to it. The cutter overused is normally not displacing changeups and curveballs, it’s displacing fastballs.

Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette feels the same way about the cutter, and it’s been taken out of top prospect Dylan Bundy’s arsenal since he was drafted last year. Peterson said the Orioles are modeling Bundy’s arsenal after Justin Verlander’s: fastball, curveball, changeup.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.