Another Marlins’ ace within the making? Sandy Alcantara sees the qualities in Edward Cabrera
The Miami Marlins pitcher, a flamethrowing righty from the Dominican Republic, makes his approach to the dugout after a dominant eighth inning. He’s on cruise management, three outs away from a shutout along with his efficiency getting stronger as the sport will get to its later levels. All of his pitches are working. He’s feeling good, able to plead his case to take the mound yet one more time and end the job he began though, prefer it or not, the choice has already been made.
No, on this occasion, we’re not speaking about Sandy Alcantara, the ace of the workers and a number one contender for the National League Cy Young Award this season.
In this occasion, we’re speaking about Alcantara’s protege Edward Cabrera as his unimaginable run in August continues.
Cabrera’s last line on Tuesday in a 3-0 win over the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum: Eight shutout innings with two hits and three walks allowed whereas placing out seven.
He has now thrown 22 2/3 shutout innings over 4 begins since his return from a virtually two month injured listing resulting from proper elbow tendonitis.
“One hundred percent confidence level right now,” Cabrera stated. “Things are coming out the right way. I trust myself. I trust my pitches.”
Alcantara, who rapidly took Cabrera beneath his wings final season when Cabrera made his MLB debut, might solely smile as he considered Cabrera’s evolution.
Alcantara additionally couldn’t deny the similarities being offered between Cabrera’s present rise and the one he beginning making not too way back.
“I think he’s me when I was here for the first time,” the Marlins’ ace stated of his mentee. “He’s competing to stay here and it’s great.”
While Cabrera isn’t on Alcantara’s stage but, the same trajectory is noticeable.
▪ Like Alcantara, he confirmed promise within the minor leagues along with his excessive velocity and the potential to have a number of elite pitches.
Cabrera makes use of two fastballs — a four-seam and a sinker — that each hit the higher 90s to go together with a changeup, slider and curveball. Alcantara used the identical pitch combine to start his profession however has kind of moved away from the curveball the previous two years.
▪ Like Alcantara, he went by means of his lumps throughout his first style of the massive leagues. Alcantara pitched to a 3.61 ERA over his first two abbreviated MLB stints — eight aid appearances with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2017 and 6 begins with the Marlins in 2018 after being acquired within the Marcell Ozuna commerce — and walked greater than 15 % of the batters he confronted in that span.
Cabrera rapidly showcased his potential in his debut on Aug. 25, 2021, when he held the Washington Nationals to a few runs over 6 1/3 innings — with all of the harm approaching a pair of dwelling runs in his last inning — however by no means made it additional than 4 innings in any of his different six begins and ended the yr with a 5.81 ERA over 26 1/3 innings.
“Last year he came here and he was OK,” Marlins supervisor Don Mattingly stated. “Yes, he had a couple of good outings. The rest of them were not great. Those are good learning experiences. He came back more confident.”
▪ And like Alcantara, he’s displaying a leap in manufacturing after taking these lumps. Alcantara earned his first All-Star Game nod in 2019 and has since gone on to turn out to be the staff’s Opening Day starter every of the previous three seasons and is changing into a family title within the league.
Cabrera has allowed simply six runs all season by means of his seven MLB begins in 2022. Five of these six runs got here in a 3 2/3-inning efficiency vs the Astros earlier than occurring the IL with the elbow harm. Remove that recreation, and Cabrera has allowed only one earned run in 34 2/3 innings — a 0.26 ERA.
He is the primary pitcher this season and first ever in Marlins history with 4 consecutive scoreless begins whereas pitching a minimal of 4 innings in every outing. He is only the 16th pitcher since 2000 to take action with all the begins coming in the identical season. Of the opposite 15, solely three pitchers have had an extended streak: Zack Greinke had six consecutive begins in 2015, Ryan Dempster 5 in 2012 and Brandon Webb 5 in 2007.
“He was always a guy that had electric stuff but didn’t really know how to use it correctly,” stated Nick Fortes, who has caught Cabrera since 2018. “He kind of sprayed a little bit, a lot of walks. Now, he’s able to get everything in the zone and read swings and dissect which pitch would be good in which situation rather than just throwing it aimlessly. He’s gotten a lot better at that.”
Following in Sandy Alcantara’s footsteps
Cabrera doesn’t take his reference to Alcantara without any consideration. He’s consistently choosing Alcantara’s mind, making an attempt to get any recommendation he can from a pitcher who was in his scenario not too way back.
The largest piece of recommendation Cabrera stated he has obtained from Alcantara: Stay sturdy daily.
“He’s a guy that has amazing discipline and I see him working every day,” Cabrera stated. “He’s very strong because of that. I try to mimic and follow those steps.”
He did his greatest Alcantara impression to this point on Tuesday in opposition to Oakland. Cabrera labored out of a pair of jams within the first and third innings earlier than settling in. He retired the ultimate 14 batters he confronted, getting 5 of his seven strikeouts on the night time in that span.
Cabrera made his method again to the dugout after the eighth inning, able to plead his case to return to the mound and try to complete off his first profession shutout.
It didn’t work. Mattingly and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. had already made up their minds. Cabrera had already thrown 101 pitches, a career-high for him in a big-league recreation. With the remainder of this season targeted on growth, Mattingly wasn’t taking any possibilities with a pitcher who is vital to the membership’s future.
“We’ve talked about him being hungry, but this is at a point in our season to where it’s at where it’s at,” Mattingly stated. “We’re not gonna let guys go out and hurt themselves. … As a manager, you’ve got to make sure you’re not letting the guy do something just because he wants to and the situation puts him at risk in our mind of injury.”
Room for development
So what’s subsequent for Cabrera?
Two issues particularly stand out.
First and foremost, he has to remain wholesome. Cabrera has had his share of accidents over the previous few years. He had proper biceps muscle fatigue in spring coaching and had the elbow harm this yr. He additionally handled an infected nerve in his proper biceps in spring coaching final yr and a blister shortly after making his MLB debut.
“Seems like the last couple of years he hasn’t been able to get out of the gates,” Mattingly stated.
From there, it’s the preparation between begins. How he approaches the 4 days between his time on the mound, Mattingly stated, is “what’s going to make him either really good or just OK.”
“There’s a lot of guys with stuff just like his,” Mattingly stated. “If he doesn’t work, he’ll be pretty good just like that, but if he wants to be anything better than that and wants to be more, it’s his work that’s gonna really take him.”