It should be noted, first and foremost, that it was my initial instinct to title this post “Kenley Jansen‘s Windswept Cutter,” because, if Kenley Jansen’s cutter looks like anything, it looks like a regular fastball being intercepted by a strong Northerly crosswind. Unfortunately, “intercepted by a strong wind” isn’t what windswept means — nor, so far as I can tell, is there any word that means such a thing. I think you’ll agree with me, bespectacled reader, that this reflects poorly on our Dear Language.
So, that’s Issue No. 1.
Issue No. 2 is that Kenley Jansen’s cut fastball — what with all this as-if-being-blown-by-the-wind movement — is emasculating. The specific one you see here is from Saturday night’s game between the Dodgers and Astros. The batter is Chris Johnson. The count? 1-0. His (i.e. Chris Johnson’s) emotion after swinging? Instant regret.
Per the Pitch F/x data from Brooks Baseball, this pitch from Jansen was thrown at 90 mph with 1.8 inches of glove-side run and 8.0 inches of “rise.” In fact, the pitch directly preceding this one — another cutter — was thrown both faster and with more movement. That it looked less impressive on camera is a testament both to (a) the importance of camera angle to how we perceive a pitch and (b) how a batter’s reaction (in this case, the instant regret of Chris Johnson) can also color our perception of a pitch’s quality.
Whatever the variables, they all conspired here to create something that — much like every Merchant Ivory Production — a baritoned narrator would likely describe as “breathtaking.”
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