As the Miami Marlins continue to dwell at the bottom of the National League East, the one bright spot for the organization has been pitcher Caleb Smith.
It was cold on Tuesday night in Chicago. That didn’t bother Caleb Smith. The Miami Marlins 27-year-old lefty took the mound at Wrigley Field in short sleeves and did what he has been doing best all season.
Once again, although it was a no-decision, Smith proved that despite the Marlins loss once again, he is one of the best pitchers in baseball this year. He as a minor mention in the team’s offseason moves just a year ago and has proven to be the most important acquisition to date during the Derek Jeter era of this franchise.
What Smith is doing on the mound, despite the support of his lineup or bullpen is beyond comprehension. There are other names in this rotation who are supposed to be doing it better, but No. 31 has surpassed them and the expectations set for him by this organization even before the season started.
Honestly, if not for the decision to move Wei-Yin Chen to the bullpen, we may not be having this conversation as Smith may still be in New Orleans competing for top billing with minor league sensation Zac Gallen.
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"Per MLB.com, “Smith fanned a career-high 11 in 6 2/3 innings and ran his string of quality starts to six consecutive outings. The left-hander continues to put himself in the conversation with the best, so far, in the NL.”"
Despite the 5-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on the road, he was by far the best pitcher on the mound.
"“It was a battle today,” Smith said. “We went out there and played hard. You can’t ask any more of these guys. We went out there and played great defense. We swung the bat well. Just a couple of things didn’t go our way. That’s baseball.”"
As the season moves along, Smith appears to be getting better, less than a year removed from a lat injury that sidelined him for 2/3 of the season in 2018. He threw 112 pitches on Tuesday night, the most he has thrown this season. The Marlins are well aware of Smith’s proficiency on the bump, but the coaching staff is monitoring his progress, making sure he is not overused this early in the season.
"“Caleb was good,” manager Don Mattingly said. “Honestly, [it was good] getting through this cold weather thing for him. He’s had trouble in the weather. It was good to see him come out and pitch like that in this type of weather.”"
The 11 strikeouts on the night topped his former best performance of 10, which he established during his rookie season on April 22, 2018, at Milwaukee.