Can the Miami Marlins build their starting rotation around Caleb Smith? Smith is the most dominant pitcher the team has this season.
As Zac Gallen takes the mound tonight in the finale of a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox, many of us are still marveling over the performance Marlins starter Caleb Smith put together on Tuesday night.
"As Joe Frisaro of MLB.com wrote, “ On Tuesday night, Smith flirted with a perfecto and a no-hitter, until those achievements were broken up in the sixth inning. Still, Smith turned in one of his finest big league performances in the Marlins’ 5-1 victory over the White Sox.”"
From watching the lefty on the mound and seeing him in person while he was here in Jacksonville for two starts during his rehab assignment, it is early to think Smith is currently the ace of this staff and should be considered a front-runner to pitch on Opening Day 2020.
Smith has been everything the Marlins weren’t expecting from a No. 5 starter. And while his resume continues to get stronger with each outing, his value continues to rise within MLB trade circles.
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"“I definitely was thinking about the no-hitter and perfect game the entire time,” Smith said. “But you kind of try to put it out of your mind, but it’s kind of hard to.”"
The Marlins control Smith’s contract for the next five seasons. Had he not gone through a rough patch in the middle of the first half of 2019 where he dropped four straight decisions and was not hampered by hip inflammation that put him on the I.L., would we be talking about him in terms of Cy Young recognition?
Smith is now 6-4 this year but could be 7-2 or 8-1 and for those reasons, he would have to be a consideration if circumstances with this team were better. The Marlins are 37-62 heading into the 100th game of the 2019 season.
The Marlins would be wise to build the rotation around Smith until one of their other starters steps up and shows he can dominant consistently with run support – something all of the starters on the roster have had to deal with.
As my partner in crime here at Marlin Maniac, Kevin Kraczkowski points out, Smith has been downright solid.
"“Smith is carrying a .193 opposing batting average, a 1.02 WHIP, and has struck out 110 in 90 innings. He’s got a 3.67 K/BB rate, and ranks third on the team with 16 starts,” he explains. “His six wins lead the club. His Achilles heel seems to be the long-ball. He’s surrendered 16 already, or one per start, or one every 5.625 innings. Nevertheless, his 3.30 ERA ranks second on the team, behind only Hawaiian wunderkind Jordan Yamamoto‘s 2.61.”"
The Marlins have plenty of work to do before the end of the season – 63 games to be exact – and are a better ballclub than 2018, even if their record doesn’t show it. Smith is a cornerstone piece to build around. The front office needs to continue to realize this without changing the current blueprint.
That would only hurt what has been an outstanding season for Smith.