Asher's expanding repertoire has room for cutter

Asher's expanding repertoire has room for cutter

TAMPA, Fla. -- Phillies right-hander Alec Asher incorporated a two-seam fastball into his repertoire with tremendous success last season.

Perhaps a new cutter can be similarly effective.

• Spring Training: Tickets | Schedule | Ballpark | Gear | Coverage

Asher allowed two hits, one run and struck out two over two innings on Friday afternoon in a 9-4 Grapefruit League loss to the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. He allowed a home run to Didi Gregorious in the first.

Asher went 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA in five starts late last season with the Phillies. He struggled the previous year, posting a 9.31 ERA in seven starts. The two-seamer made him much more effective in 2016, but as he searched for another edge, Asher stumbled with the cutter.

Asher on first appearance

"Just something we brainstormed at the end of last year, kind of like the two-seamer the year before, something we think would fit in my arsenal," Asher said. "It was easy to pick up because it's more of a fastball grip. It's been great so far throwing it."

It could complement Asher's sinker nicely.

"Kind of making them go both ways," he said.

It is unclear where Asher will start this season. The Phillies' rotation appears set with Jeremy Hellickson, Clay Buchholz, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez and Aaron Nola. Asher could earn a spot in the Phillies' bullpen. If not, he figures to start at Triple-A.

Pivetta fans Judge

Phillies prospect Nick Pivetta, who is ranked 12th in the organization by MLBPipeline.com, followed Asher in the third. He allowed one hit, one walk and struck out three in two scoreless innings. It might be one of his only Grapefruit League appearances before he leaves to join Canada for the World Baseball Classic early next month.

Pivetta on his first appearance

"It's a lifelong dream for me," Pivetta said of playing in the Classic. "It's right up there with when I get that first big league start with the Phillies."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.