Caleb Smith: The Marlins biggest surprise this spring

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 02: Caleb Smith #31 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch in the first inning of the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on June 2, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 02: Caleb Smith #31 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch in the first inning of the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on June 2, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /
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 After a rookie season that was cut short in 2018 because of an injury, is there a more perfect story than Marlins pitcher Caleb Smith this spring?

When you ask Miami Marlins fans about the trade with the New York Yankees last offseason that could have changed the direction of the organization for years to come, they will quickly show their disgust over Giancarlo Stanton taking his bat to Gotham and the American League. They don’t mention the move to acquire pitcher Caleb Smith in what was deemed a minor move in 2018.

That “minor” move could pay off handsomely for the Marlins, who continue to show off young arms and plenty of potential this spring. At any one point during the Grapefruit League, the Marlins have had plenty to talk about when it comes to their young arms and how dominant they “could” be in the near future.

Caleb Smith, who is still recovering from a torn lat muscle that required season-ending surgery last year, has shown he has the arm and the consistency on the mound to become a solid No. 3 or No. 4 starter in this rotation.

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The position battle between the 27-year-old and veteran lefty Wei-Yin Chen has been one of the most talked about situations with the Marlins in camp. It should not be a consideration, but it is. Chen has been as ineffective as Smith has been almost perfect.

The mere thought that he may not make the team’s rotation because of a salary the team cannot trade or dump this season makes me a bit uneasy.

For that reason alone, the thought of a six-man rotation makes perfect sense.

It’s not the fact Smith has shown much improvement from last season on the mound to this current moment. It’s how he is doing it and doing it well. He is one of the reasons the Marlins are riding a 10-game winning streak. No, that is not a misprint. He was just as effective in the 7-1 win over the Washington Nationals on Monday.

"“Caleb Smith continued his red-hot start to the spring with another outstanding effort. He earned his second win in only two appearances, striking out seven over five innings,” writes Kevin Kraczkowski of Marlin Maniac. “Smith only allowed one earned run, walked zero, and gave up a pair of singles. Of his 64 total offerings, 45 landed in the strike zone.”"

Could Smith’s performances, and the fact he is still getting back to form cause the Marlins coaching staff to rethink its decisions regarding the rotation? Does Smith have the ability to churn out innings, mow down batters and dominate on the mound for a full season?

We all hope so. Spring Training isn’t a complete sample of what pitchers can do, but if this is any indication of how 2019 will go, then Caleb Smith should be one of the best pitchers not only for the Marlins but in all of Major League Baseball.

dark. Next. Terrific 10: 4 things from the Marlins latest win

In a shortened season, Smith was 5-6 with a 4.19 ERA in 16 games. He had 88 strikeouts in 77.1 innings pitched in 2018.

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