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The shuuto (シュート?) or shootball is a pitch commonly thrown by several right-handed Japanese pitchers such as Hiroki Kuroda, Noboru Akiyama, Kenjiro Kawasaki, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish and Masumi Kuwata. The most renowned shuuto pitcher in history was Masaji Hiramatsu whose famous pitch was dubbed the razor shuuto because it seemed to "cut the air" when thrown.
The pitch is mainly designed to break down and in on right-handed batters, so as to prevent them from making solid contact with the ball. It can also be thrown to left-handers to keep them off balance. Good shuuto pitchers often break the bats of right-handed hitters because they usually get jammed when trying to swing at this pitch. It could be said that the shuuto has a somewhat similar break and purpose as the screwball, even though the latter is also meant to be primarily thrown at right-handed batters. If the shuuto pitch was thrown off the outside part of the plate, it would tail back over the outside border of the strike zone. Conversely, if it was thrown on the inside part of the plate, it would move even further inside.
The shuuto is often described in English as a "reverse slider", but this is not strictly the case, as the shuuto generally has more velocity and less break than a slider. The two-seam fastball, the sinker, or the screwball in differing degrees, will move down and in towards a right-handed batter when thrown, or in the opposite manner of a curveball and a slider.
The shuuto is often confused with the gyroball, perhaps because of a well-known article by Will Carroll that erroneously equated the two pitches. Although Carroll later corrected himself, the confusion persists.
The shuuto is mentioned often in the movie Mr. Baseball. This is the type of pitch that Tom Selleck's character is continually unable to hit, even though he is a left hand batter. The shuuto is described as "the great equalizer".
Baseball analyst Mike Fast theorized that the shuuto "can describe any pitch that tails to the pitcher's arm side, including the two-seam fastball, the circle change-up, the screwball, and the split-finger fastball".
- Garik (27 April 2012). "Yu Darvish's Filthy "Shuuto" from Tuesday - What is this pitch?". SB Nation-PITCHFX.
- Rob Neyer
- Mike Fast (1 June 2010). "The shuuto". The Hardball Times.