In baseball, a cut fastball is a variation of the typical fastball that breaks slightly to the left from a right-handed pitcher and slightly to the right from a left-hander as it approaches home plate. Somewhere between the fastball and slider, the cut fastball-or cutter-is thrown harder than a slider but with greater movement than a basic fastball.
When thrown correctly, the cut fastball is a highly useful baseball pitch because, even if a batter makes contact, the result will most likely be a ground out. The pitch is thrown with the exact same motion as a fastball, so a batter doesn't realize the ball is cutting until it's too late. One of the greatest practitioners of the cut fastball in the history of baseball is Mariano Rivera. Although he made it famous, it has been around since the mid-20th century. A fastball with a "tail" became more popular in the 1970s due to pitchers like Goose Gossage experimenting with it, yet it was not known as a cut fastball until some time later. Other pitchers from the era were using similar pitches, but because there was no terminology to describe it then, it is hard to determine the true origins of the pitch and its usage.