MacPherson: Proliferation of curveballs the latest evolution of cat-and-mouse game

From Brian MacPherson at the Providence Journal on March 18, 2017:

Baseball not too long ago was an east-west game. Sinkers and cutters would dart this way and that, dancing on the edges of the strike zone, moving as much from side to side as they did up and down. Pitchers like Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee could expand the strike zone beyond its outer edges, as Tom Glavine had before them, with precise location rather than exaggerated movement. Mariano Rivera pioneered the use of a cutter that broke bats rather than missing them.

The game evolved. Hitters learned to go the the other way with pitches on the outside corner. The strike zone tightened on the edges and creep downward. Hitters began to launch home runs at a rate the game hadn’t seen since it moved to snuff out artificial enhancers. Strikeouts became the primary means of run prevention, especially for hard-throwing relievers.

And now the curveball — an old-fashioned pitch more about missing bats than missing barrels — is back in fashion.

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Originally published: March 20, 2017. Last Updated: March 20, 2017.