Is Caleb Smith the next Miami Marlins pitcher to move to the top of the rotation and lead this team moving forward?
What can be said about Caleb Smith that we haven’t already talked about? The Miami Marlins starting pitcher hopes to start the 2020 campaign the same way he did in 2019 by reeling off three straight wins and show Major League Baseball he is one of the best strikeout artists in the game today.
Actually, if he could win more than just three coming out of the gate, Marlins fans might jump out of their seats while watching this team play ball from their homes instead of sitting in the ballpark.
Smith is being asked to take another step in 2020 – much like he did in 2019. And much like he showed in 2018 before a lat injury ended his season, which was the first in a Miami Marlins uniform.
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At times, Smith was untouchable last season, leading the team with 10 wins. And then there were times when the long ball victimized him. The coaching staff and front office would love to see more of the pitcher who threw lights out to start the season before a hip injury slowed him down.
If Smith can pitch a full season injury-free and can continue to throw fewer pitches with more results, this could be a special year for the left-hander.
Here are three predictions for him this coming season.
Opening Day Starter
You heard it here first. There’s been so much talk that Sandy Alcantara should be the starter on opening day, but it’s not a close case. In fact, there are potentially four arms who could be honored with that tradition.
I am choosing Smith to come out of the pack and be named the opening day starter by Mattingly.
Jose Urena has been the teams opening is day starter the past two seasons. There’s talk he could still win that right again. Alcantara is in the mix. So is Pablo Lopez. But I’m expecting Smith to come back after this break and show he is ready to become the ace the team needs.
What does proves is the Miami Marlins have a really tough decision to make, and a staff that is going to grow exponentially this coming season.
Strike Out Leader
The thing I like most about Smith is that he challenges hitters from the first pitch. It’s a trait Alcantara could learn from. There’s no fear in how the Miami Marlins starter goes about his work. And if he can learn to get even stronger as the game wears on, I think he has a real chance to lead the league in strikeouts.
Smith wasn’t even supposed to be part of the roster last year as a dominant spring made Marlins stand up and take notice. Remember he was a pitcher who suffered a lot injury in 2018 and there was talk he would start the 2019 season in the minors.
He proved he can handle Major League pitching, and was one of the better arms in camp, which pushed veterans off the roster.
It’s that kind of mentality that has made MLB stand up and take notice, that he can be one of the better strikeout pitchers in the Majors.
Trade Talk Continues
If you are judging how important a picture is to a team, you may want to look at how many other teams are inquiring about him via trade.
Smith may have been the most talked about player this off-season, there were plenty of teams that called the Marlins front office to see what it would take to acquire his services. The team didn’t budge, but that doesn’t mean his name doesn’t continue to circulate, especially with teams like the New York Yankees who may need a fifth starter.
As long as he is successful on the mound, and he continues to strike out players at a higher rate, the trade talk will continue. Some team out there would have to make a really good offer for the Marlins to not only listen but to potentially play “Let’s Make A Deal.”