OAKLAND -- The cut fastball, Mariano Rivera's money pitch, is all the rage in the Major Leagues these days. Tyler Chatwood, the Angels' rookie right-hander, began throwing it in the past few weeks, taking it into a couple of Minor League starts at Triple-A Salt Lake City. He used it with great impact during 3 1/3 impressive innings behind starter Joel Pineiro on Monday night against the A's.
"I'm excited," Chatwood said following his first relief appearance for the Angels after 24 starts. "They had some bad swings on the cutter. It's like a four-seamer with late movement. I'm able to throw my pitches at different speeds now, something that [Jered Weaver] does with every pitch he throws. It's been a great year for me to be around Weav and Dan [Haren], and watch them. Dan's cutter is unbelievable."
The cutter has slider action, and comes in at 87-91 mph for Chatwood, compared to 93-97 for his four-seamer and two-seamer. His curveball is in the 77-81-mph range, his changeup at 83-85 mph.
"When they sent me to Salt Lake," said Chatwood, who was demoted on Aug. 18, "I worked with our pitching coach there, Erik Bennett, on the cutter. I didn't have a feel for it at first, and got frustrated with it. I was trying to do too much, rather than just letting it go and feeling the spin. Dan can throw a big one or a tight one, and that's where I'm trying to get with it. I think it's going to help me get back in counts, and give me more options if I don't have fastball command that day."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia raves about the 21-year-old Chatwood's raw stuff, and feels he can improve dramatically on his 6-10 record and 4.59 ERA as he continues to evolve. Chatwood's primary aim is to improve his strikeout-to-walk ratio, now at 72-68 in 137 1/3 innings.
Scioscia was impressed enough with Chatwood's effort against the A's to throw him back into the mix for a potential start in the remaining two weeks, along with Pineiro and Jerome Williams behind the big three -- Weaver, Haren and Ervin Santana.
"He's in that pool," Scioscia said. "He looked good. His stuff was crisp. It's going to be exciting to see him evolve to where his command matches his stuff. He's going to be a terrific pitcher."