Marlins, D-backs get another look at pitching futures

Field Level Media

Caleb Smith is having the kind of season that would seem to cement his spot in the Miami Marlins' future, and rookie Alex Young has made a strong impression during his first season with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The two left-handers will oppose each other in the second game of a three-game series on Tuesday in Phoenix.

The Diamondbacks (77-74) won the first game of the series 7-5 on Monday, when Jake Lamb's three-run double with two outs in the seventh inning capped a four-run rally after the Marlins scored five runs in the top of the seventh.

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"I've always loved hitting in those situations," Lamb said. "I live for those moments. I love them."

Arizona's window for a National League wild-card berth narrowed, however, when the Chicago Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds. Arizona is 5 1/2 games behind the Cubs for the second wild-card bid.

Miami is an NL-worst 52-98.

Smith (8-10, 4.13 ERA) has bounced back from surgery for a Grade 3 lat strain that limited him to 16 starts in 2018 and cost him the second half of the season. He has pitched 139 1/3 innings and has 160 strikeouts, exceeding his totals for any season in the majors or the minors.

"'Smitty' has been a guy who has taken steps forward," Marlins manager Don Mattingly told reporters recently, "from the standpoint of him starting to understand what he has to do to be successful. Just can't be that you have swing-and-miss (stuff). It has to be more specific."

Smith has thrown his 92-94 mph fastball a little less and his slider 82-84 mph slider a little more this season. He has given up 29 home runs but cut his walks per nine innings to a career-low 3.3. He is on pace to pass Scott Olsen (166) and Dontrelle Willis (170) for the second-most strikeouts in a single season by a left-hander in franchise history. Al Leiter had 200 in 1996.

"He is really learning that he has to get the ball to certain spots with his pitches," Mattingly said. "You can't leave stuff in the middle of the plate because you end up paying for it. No matter what happens the rest of the way with him, it has been a good year for him from the standpoint of learning what he has to do to be truly successful."

Mattingly and the Marlins said they are not concerned about the workload as Smith extends his career highs, and they believe a targeted offseason conditioning program will help continue his development. He missed two weeks with a hip injury this season.

"Physically there are some things that he can do to free himself up and allow him a better chance to staying healthy and being more successful with his motion," Mattingly said.

Smith went seven innings for the victory in 11-6 win over the Diamondbacks when the meet in Marlins Park on July 29, giving up a three-run homer to Ketel Marte among his four hits and four runs surrendered.

Young (7-4, 3.38 ERA) was called up from Triple-A Reno in late June and has made 14 big-league appearances, including 13 starts. Young, who has thrown all four of his pitches at least 19 percent of the time, according to FanGraphs, has 61 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings.

He pitched six innings in a 9-2 victory at Miami on July 27, the only game the Diamondbacks won in the four-game series.

--Field Level Media

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