For Caleb Smith, it’s been a long road back to live-game action.
Smith is recovering from a surgical procedure to repair his left lat muscle, torn in June last season. He logged around 60 pitches in a simulated game on Friday, and was blessed off as “ready to go.”
Initially drafted in the 14th round of the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft by the New York Yankees, Smith rose through their minor league system for four seasons before making his major league debut in 2017. In nine games, including two starts, he was 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA. After that season, on November 20th, they traded him to the Miami Marlins, along with 1B/OF Garrett Cooper for minor league pitcher Michael King.
King went 11-5 through three levels of play last year in the Yankees system, with a 1.79 ERA and a 0.911 WHIP over 24 starts. Cooper struggled to remain healthy with the Marlins parent club and went seven-for-33 in 14 appearances.
Smith’s Miami Marlins debut would yield a 5-6 record, a 4.19 ERA, and 88 strikeouts in 77 1/3 innings of work. He made 16 starts in the rotation, and surrendered only 63 hits for an opposing batting average of .220.
"He’s pretty much on track, pitch-wise, It’s just getting that same energy. – Don Mattingly, quoted by Joe Frisaro on MLB.COM"
Impact on the Miami Marlins Rotation
Smith’s inclusion in the Miami Marlins possible Opening Day roster adds another wrinkle to what is already setting up as a complicated picture. José Ureña, Dan Straily, Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Richards, Wei-Yin Chen, and Pablo Lopez have good chances to start in the rotation. Jeff Brigham, Robert Dugger, Zac Gallen, and Nick Neidert also remain possibilities in the mix. The addition of Smith begs the question – Who do the Marlins need to move out of the rotation.
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Ureña and Straily are considered locks. Lopez, Richards, and Alcantara should be. Chen may have played himself into a bullpen role after his two terrible starts and his solid relief outing on Saturday. Is there room for Smith? Who would you replace? Should the Marlins shop Straily more aggressively? Should they give Alcantara more time to improve his command with the New Orleans Baby Cakes? Can they justify sending Lopez or Richards back down to start the season?
The Marlins have difficult choices ahead when it comes to narrowing the rotation down to just five pitchers. What do you think? Let us know in the comments, follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our newsletter, and like us on Facebook to keep up with the Miami Marlins.