“He’s getting better each and every start,” GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies when asked about the continued development of Cade Cavalli, the 2020 1st Round pick and top pitching prospect in Washington’s system, last week.
“He’s going to be a good big league pitcher for us,” Rizzo continued. “I’m excited to see him when he gets here, and when the reports are that he’s ready to come to the big leagues, we certainly will not hesitate to bring him here.”
“He goes out there and has a few outings where he’s consistent, we get him up there where he can throw six-plus innings, then we’ll deem that he probably can come up and help us,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said when he too was asked when fans in the nation’s capital might see Cavalli in the big league rotation. “Right now, the biggest thing for us is getting our guys to get through the sixth inning, and we need that. We can’t have him come up here and go four innings, because it will kill our bullpen, and I think they all understand it.”
Cavalli, who turned 24 on August 14th, had a 3.82 ERA, 36 walks, 96 Ks, and a .219 BAA in 19 starts and 92 IP on the year at that point, and he followed up on a few solid outings with five innings of work on the mound yesterday in which he struck out eight, gave up a couple hits, three walks, and one earned run, and threw 109 pitches total, 69 for strikes.
Pitcher by day, barber by night— Rochester Red Wings (@RocRedWings) August 20, 2022
5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 8 SO pic.twitter.com/KGwjr9wYwO
So ... will his next start be his first in the majors? Maybe?
“We’re going to wait and see what transpires here in the next — I know he threw a bunch of pitches today,” Martinez said before last night’s game with the Padres in San Diego.
“He struck out a lot of guys, but he threw 109 pitches I think it was, or something like that. So, we’ll wait and see. We’ll continue to monitor him. Like I said, I know his stuff is getting better. A lot of concerns about that, his pitch count gets up there, but we’ll see, I think he’s got one more start maybe here in the next five days, and then we’ll see how that goes and we’ll go from there.”
“But that’s a decision that [Rizzo] and those guys are going to make here if they deem that he’s ready,” Martinez added.
“I mean, I’ve been keeping an eye on him, and like I said, he’s had some consistency as of late, which is kind of nice, and his stuff is actually really playing well, but we got to get that pitch count down. He’s got to be more efficient.”
Before last night’s game, the Nationals placed outfielder Yadiel Hernández on the 10-Day Injured List, (retroactive to August 19th), with a left calf strain, then called outfielder Josh Palacios back up from Triple-A to join the club on the road in the Padres’ home.
In his last 21 games, Hernández is 20 for 67 (.299/.338/.448) with a double and three home runs in 71 plate appearances over that stretch, so the injury is unfortunate, and his skipper said it wasn’t clear how long he’d be out since calf injuries are tricky.
“You don’t really know when it comes to a calf,” Martinez said. “It’s a strain, so he’s going to work really hard to get back as soon as possible. But there’s no say of how long it’s going to take. So he’s kind of frustrated, but I told him, I said, ‘You’ve just got to work hard to get back. There’s nothing you do. He’s been playing well, been hitting good, and is a guy that has helped us in the middle of the lineup. So hopefully we get him back soon.”
Meanwhile, Palacios is up for another opportunity after making his debut with the Nats earlier this month and playing eight games over which he was 3 for 16. What did his big league manager see from him the first time up?
“You know, he went down there [to Triple-A], he’s been working on some stuff that we wanted to talk to him about, about using his lower half a little better when it comes to hitting,” Martinez said. “But look, he can play all three outfield positions if need be, and I know that he swings the bat well against right-handed pitching. So, you know, we’ll get him back up here, but we’ve got a lot of options when it comes to outfield now, especially with Joey [Meneses] being able to do a lot of different things. So we’ll try to get [Palacios] in some games, but have him readily available off the bench as well.”
CJ Abrams, 21, made four errors with the Padres this season, when he was called up to play short in the majors for the first time after San Diego drafted him in the 1st Round in 2019. In five games with Washington following the trade which brought him to the Nationals, he had two more, both throwing errors. He’s learning on the job, of course, and has plenty to learn, but his manager offered an early take on what he’s seeing from the shortstop in the field so far.
“He get to the ball fairly quickly,” Martinez said, “and then he’s got to just remember to keep moving his feet. He stops his feet for a little bit, and then he tries to regroup, he’s just got to keep moving his feet and remember that he’s got to go towards his target.”