I normally don’t pay much attention to the All-Star Game, but this caught my attention.
Yu Darvish unveiled a new pitch called the “gyro-cutter” in his All-Star appearance this year. According to the linked article, he had just shown it in practice on the 21st. Said Darvish: “it’s the first time I used it in a game. It’s one type of cut fastball. Just the trajectory is different from what we’ve had until now.”
Here’s a YouTube clip I found of Darvish throwing the pitch against Giants catcher Shinnosuke Abe. The pitches shown in this video are numbers 13-22 of Darvish’s appearance, if you’d like to check out his velocity chart for the game. The pitches show up at cut fastballs in the data I collected.
Abe had this to say about the at-bat, which resulted in an RBI double: “it’s like a rising pitch from a submariner. I tried with all my might to outlast it with foul balls.”
So what’s “gyro” about this cut fastball? The spin. The Gyroball is supposed to spin sideways toward the plate, rather than rotating top over bottom. I think the best example of the pitch’s grip and trajectory can be seen at about 0:40 of the video. I own a copy of Gyroball originator Kazushi Tezuka’s book, but I haven’t read it, so take what I’m saying here with an appropriate measure of salt. In any event, Abe had a good at-bat and looked capable of fighting the pitch off.