For Miami Marlins’ Edward Cabrera, the message is simple: Focus on ‘Strike 1’

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The Miami Marlins know there’s still something there with Edward Cabrera.

“His stuff is as good as anybody in the major leagues,” manager Skip Schumaker said, echoing his thoughts from all of last season.

But pure talent and execution — along with staying healthy — haven’t exactly gone hand-in-hand with the 25-year-old Cabrera to this point in his MLB career.

And there’s only so much time left for him to prove he can put it all together.

Cabrera is out of minor-league options, meaning he has to make the big-league roster out of camp or be on the injured list in order to stay on the Marlins’ 40-man roster.

Assuming he stays with the organization (he has been the topic of trade rumors this offseason and the early days of spring training), Cabrera will likely be penciled into Miami’s Opening Day roster.

But Cabrera knows if he is going to stay in Miami’s long-term plans — or any team’s plans, really — he knows what must improve.

“The command,” Cabrera said Saturday. “The control.”

Cabrera’s command, or lack thereof, was a reason the Marlins demoted him to Triple A for a month when the team was in the middle of a playoff push.

Overall, Cabrera pitched to a 4.24 ERA with 118 strikeouts and 66 walks in 99 2/3 innings over 22 games (20 starts).

Among pitchers with at least as many innings pitched as him last season, Cabrera had the second-highest walk percentage (15.2) and was 22nd in in strikeout percentage (27.2).

“The importance of this camp for him,” Schumaker said, “is Strike 1.”

If he can do that, his arsenal can take care of the rest.

According to Statcast, Cabrera ranked among the top 20 percent of qualified pitchers in expected batting average (.199, 93rd percentile), ground ball percentage (55.7 percent, 91st percentile), fastball velocity (96.2 mph, 86th percentile), and swing-and-miss rate (30.9 percent, 83rd percentile).

Beyond the fastball, all three of Cabrera’s secondary pitches induced whiff rates of at least 30 percent last season: His curveball (38 percent), changeup (36.3 percent) and slider (30.6 percent).

“It’s throwing more pitches over the middle of the plate and seeing what happens,” Schumaker said. “In my opinion, it’s nothing physical. It’s him understanding that his stuff works and plays in the strike zone and him understanding and convincing himself that that’s gonna work. It’s hard to convince major leaguers when you’re facing a major league hitter that throwing it down the middle sometimes is the play. And not just throwing it down the middle, but aiming over the middle of the plate. But when you’re throwing 98 miles an hour with a 94 mile an hour changeup, I think that is different than most guys and he’s different. And I think maturity wise, he’s understanding that ‘I belong here. I’ve just got throw strikes.’”

Cabrera added: “The idea is just to continue working and trying to get good results. ... Keep working and grinding every year.”

Arbitration decisions

Of the three players the Marlins took to arbitration this month, one came out a winner: Left-handed relief pitcher Tanner Scott.

Scott, who emerged as the club’s closer and was tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the most wins above replacement (2.8) among relievers according to Fangraphs, will earn $5.7 million in 2024 — his final season before free agency. The Marlins had filed for $5.15 million.

As for the other two, the Marlins won their case against second baseman Luis Arraez (the Marlins filed for $10.6 million, while Arraez filed for $12 million) and center fielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. (the Marlins filed for $2.625 million, while Chisholm filed for $2.9 million).