Cade Cavalli, 24, made 20 starts, and threw 97 total innings this past season at Triple-A Rochester in Washington’s system, giving up 39 walks (3.62 BB/9), striking out 104 batters (9.65 K/9), and holding opposing hitters to a .215 batting average on the year, with a 3.71 ERA, and a 3.24 FIP overall in his second full season in the Nationals’ system after they selected him in the first round of 2020’s MLB Draft (22nd overall).
Cavalli made his MLB debut on August 26th, giving up six hits, two walks, and seven earned runs in 4 1⁄3 IP, over which he threw 99 pitches, before a shoulder issue cropped up in his between-starts work which in the end shut him down for the rest of the season.
He worked hard to try to get back on the mound in the majors, but the Nationals opted for a cautious approach which his manager once again stressed when he talked to a fired-up Cavalli about the work he’s been doing this winter to get ready for 2023.
Cade Cavalli, Disgusting 91mph Changeup...and 100mph ⛽️ pic.twitter.com/vbcq3VAX1X— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 12, 2021
“Cade said he’s ready to fire the ball, and I told him, ‘Well, don’t do that yet. We’ve got plenty of time,’” Davey Martinez said of the conversation when he reached out to the young starter. “But he’s fired up.”
Martinez said he was really excited to see Cavalli compete in Spring Training after all the work he put in to get himself up to the majors last summer, in his second full pro season after he was drafted out of the University of Oklahoma.
“I’ve seen a lot of him in the minor leagues,” Martinez explained. “We didn’t see much of him in the major leagues, but this guy is a competitor. He’s young, but I know that he wants the ball. He’s eager. He’s hungry. I’m looking forward to getting him in Spring Training and seeing what he can do.
“I think he’s going to have an unbelievable career, but like I’ve said, he’s still young, and he’s still young to pitching*. The biggest thing is that he comes to Spring Training healthy.”
[ed. note - “Just to explain Martinez’s ‘young to pitching’ comment on Cavalli, in case you’re not familiar with his pre-draft history, here is Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo from a spot with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies last season:
“… you also got to remember he did have a great college career, but he didn’t pitch much.
“He was a two-way player, he’s really new to pitching, and he’s really learned fast and on the run, and when you talk about a guy who had a limited amount of innings in high school and college as he has, he’s made a meteoric rise through the minor league rankings, and I think he’s just scratching the surface. He’s going to be a good big league pitcher for us, 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.”
Cade Cavalli, Wicked Breaking Balls.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 25, 2022
And a Sword. ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/33WcJhyISn
A few months from the start of Spring Training 2023, Martinez has the right-hander penciled in as part of the starting rotation in D.C.
“I’ve got him penciled in as a starter for us, and rightfully so,” he said. “I think he’s earned it. Like I said, he checked all the boxes for us last year in Triple-A. He was going to get an opportunity to pitch.
“Obviously got hurt. We’re looking forward to getting him back.”
More Corbin Thoughts:
Patrick Corbin finished the 4th year of his 6-year/$140M deal with Washington’s Nationals (6-19) with a 6.31 ERA, a 4.84 FIP, 49 walks (2.89 BB/9), and 128 Ks (7.55 K/9) in 152 2⁄3 IP, over which hitters put up a tough .321/.374/.513 line against the left-hander.
Though his struggles on the mound continued for a third consecutive season after he helped the Nats win it all in the first year of his deal in 2019, GM Mike Rizzo told reporters in October 2022 he expected Corbin to be part of the big league rotation in 2023.
“I see him as a starter for us next year,” Rizzo told reporters. “He takes the ball every fifth day. His stuff was good, his velocity on his fastball was good, his spin rate was good. I think his last 7-8 starts were more indicative of who he’s going to be next year than his previous starts. I think that the defense we put behind him is going to help improve his bottom line next year, but I give the guy credit. He answered the questions every five days, he took the ball every five days, and he’s a pro. And I think that he’s going to come back with a little chip on his shoulder next year and try to prove a lot of naysayers wrong, and I think that he’ll get closer to the 2018-19 Patrick Corbin that we’ve seen in the past.”
His manager said in early December the southpaw was putting in the work to get back out there and build on what he saw as improvements from Corbin over the last month of the ‘22 campaign.
“He’s been working out,” Martinez told reporters. “He’s been getting stronger. He’s another guy that learned a lot of who he is last year.
“Look, this guy endured a lot last year, and the fact that he took the ball every five days — I talked to him a lot about doing different things with him, put him in the bullpen maybe, and he wanted the ball. And I appreciate that from him.
“Right now he’s still our guy, and I expect him to come next year pitching the way he pitched the last month of the season, and because our defense got better, winning games for us.”