Fifteen years ago, pitchers threw fastballs nearly two out of every three pitches. They grew up in a baseball culture that deified the pitch, as if it were some sacred skeleton key that would unlock success in their other ones. Today, pitchers throw fastballs less than 56 percent of the time. A full quarter of pitchers live off cutters, sliders, curveballs, changeups and use the fastball as a secondary offering – almost an on-speed pitch. Of baseball’s manifold recent evolutions, this one affects the game more than any, because it’s the great impetus behind the surge in strikeouts.