Lefty-starter Caleb Smith, out of Huntsville, TX, is a six-foot-two product of Sam Houston State University. Initially a 14th-round choice of the New York Yankees in 2013, Smith joined the Marlins in a trade that didn’t get as much press as the other four “big trades” of the formative days of the Sherman-Jeter ownership era.
The Marlins traded away minor-league pitcher Michael King to the Yankees for Smith and Garrett Cooper. Although both Smith and Cooper have struggled with assorted injuries, for the most part, they’ve produced more than expected.
In 16 starts through the 2018 season, Smith was 5-6 with a 4.19 ERA and 88 K’s in 77 1/3 innings. Opponents managed a 1.241 WHIP against him, and his 10.2 K/9 rate led the Marlins rotation. At no time during that first season was Smith more dominant than on April 29th, when he pitched seven shutout innings in a 3-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies. Smith whiffed nine and surrendered two hits and one walk.
In 2019, Smith missed a few turns in the rotation with an early-June injury, but recovered to close with a team-second 28 starts. He led the team in victories, going 10-11, while striking out 168 in 153 1/3 innings.
Smith’s big weakness is a propensity to give up the long-ball, with a league-high 33 taters surrendered through the season. A 1.226 WHIP and a 4.52 ERA would be the fruits of Smith’s labors last year, and he led the club with a 9.9 K/9.