The secret behind David Robertson's overpowering cutter in 2023

Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets
Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets / Elsa/GettyImages

Down to their last out, Philadelphia Phillies infielder Bryson Stott stepped into the batter's box representing the game's tying run. After getting ahead 1-2, New York Mets closer David Robertson fired a cutter on the outside corner. Philadelphia's leadoff hitter swung and missed at the 94 mph pitch, ending the game and earning Robertson his 10th save in 2023.

In the absence of Edwin Diaz, Robertson has filled in nicely as New York's stopper this season. The 38-year-old signed a one-year, 10 million dollar contract with the Metropolitans over the offseason, the sixth different team he's played for in his career.

After Diaz's injury, Robertson edged out teammate Adam Ottavino for the closer's role. The right-hander has converted 10 of 11 save opportunities for the Mets, with three pitches making up over 95% of his arsenal: the cutter, curveball and slider. He'll also mix in a changeup and sinker from time to time.

How has Mets closer David Robertson been so successful in 2023?

Robertson's go-to pitch this season has been the cutter, which hitters aren't touching. According to Baseball Savant, he's averaging 93.1 mph on the pitch, his fastest in over a decade. This increased velocity is causing more swings and misses than ever before. Compared to last year's pitching for Philadelphia, Robertson's whiff rate with the cutter is up an astounding 12%. Opposing batters are hitting just .094 against the pitch, the lowest mark in any of his 15 seasons.

The keys to the righty's deceptive cutter are the vertical break and increased spin rate of the pitch. Upon releasing the ball, Robertson's cutter drops an average of 14.9 inches, almost 30% more than the league average on similar pitches. This devastating drop comes from a phenomenal spin rate of 2,636 revolutions per minute, Robertson's highest on his cutter since Statcast began tracking in 2015.

The veteran opts to use his cutter 57% of the time on 0-0 counts and 63.8% when he's behind in the count. After getting ahead with his heater, Robertson mixes in his devastating curveball and slider to finish off most hitters.

This cutter from David Robertson is something we've never seen before from him. It's faster, it spins more and it's the perfect set-up for something off-speed. If the journeyman can keep these numbers up throughout the season, Mets fans are in for a special treat.