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Previewing Miami Marlins starter Edward Cabrera

Cabrera will start Monday’s series opener.

Miami Marlins v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves are coming off a brutal three game stretch where they had to face Hunter Brown, Framber Valdez and Christian Javier. Lucky for them though that brutal gauntlet is over as they’ll get a bit of a reprieve early in the week facing the Miami Marlins. However, Miami will be throwing a pitcher with the stuff required to be a future ace and who is coming off of a 3.01 ERA in his rookie season. That pitcher is Monday’s starter, Edward Cabrera. Down below we are going to break his arsenal down and see what he might do against this Braves lineup.

Pitch #1 - Changeup - 2023 usage rate - 35.2 percent

2023 stats - .192 xBA, .241 xSLG, .304 xwOBA

Average velo - 92.2 MPH - Spin rate - 1,680 RPM - vertical movement - 24.2 inches - horizontal movement - 17.6 inches

Cabrera has three plus offerings in his arsenal with his changeup arguably being the second best of the bunch. He uses his changeup almost with the intention of it acting as a sinker for him with his propensity to get contact on the ground from it. The ground ball percentage on it last season was 59.4 percent with a launch angle of 3 degrees. This year those numbers have respectively gone to 82.4 percent and -10 degrees. Both of which are unsustainable numbers this season, but it puts into perspective how he uses it and what his desired outcome is with it. This is a pitch that Cabrera does not throw in the strike zone with much frequency as the in-zone percentage on it last season was 33.4 percent and this year it’s 24.8 percent. Part of the reason that number is so low is because he struggles to consistently locate it. However, that is also because he’s able to generate a high chase rate with it as the chase percentage this season was 39.6 percent, down 4.5 percent from last year’s mark. Cabrera throws this slightly more to righties than lefties with a usage rate of 35.8 percent to same side hitters.

Pitch #2 - Four seam - 2023 usage rate - 33.1 percent

2023 stats - .192 xBA, .408 xSLG, .386 xwOBA

Average velo - 96.2 MPH - Spin rate - 2.294 RPM - vertical movement - 13.1 inches - horizontal movement - 9.8 inches

Of his three pitches used 25 percent or more of the time this is the worst of the three in my opinion. Batters put this pitch in the air at a considerable rate with a fly ball percentage of 52 and 60 over the past two seasons. Hitters rarely swing and missed at this offering this season as it has a whiff percentage of 8.6, considerably down from last season’s 22.4 percent. Interestingly, Cabrera’s usage of the pitch has changed significantly this year. The pitch percentage against lefties has jumped from 22.4 percent to 38.6 percent, the highest amongst his pitches this year. Additionally, against right-handed batters it has increased from 18.3 percent to 24.8. With those numbers in mind, the likes of Matt Olson and Ozzie Albies should expect to see a steady diet of four seamers.

Pitch #3 - Curveball - 2023 usage rate - 25 percent

2023 stats - .179 xBA, .210 xSLG, .210 xwOBA

Average velo - 83.5 MPH - Spin rate - 2,606 RPM - vertical movement - 48.0 inches - horizontal movement - 10.8 inches (4.8 inches above average)

The best pitch in Cabrera’s offering is in my opinion his curve. When hitters go out of the zone for this pitch this season, it has almost been a guaranteed whiff with a chase miss rate of 80 percent. Obviously that number is going to come down closer to his 59.1 percent from last season, but it shows us how dangerous it is. When Cabrera is ahead in the count it becomes his second most used at 25 percent, a slight increase from last season’s number. Early this season hitters have made hard contact against this pitch with a hard-hit rate of 50 percent and an average exit velocity of 91.8 MPH. It is surprising seeing as last year’s results were 35.1 percent and 86.3 MPH.

Did not include his slider or sinker as he has thrown them a combined 23 times this season.

Key matchup - Ronald Acuna Jr. - I know week in and week out you can make the case that Acuna Jr. is always the key matchup. However, this week it feels more pertinent than normal. Cabrera has struggled to throw strikes this season with a 61.9 percent out of zone rate and 19.5 walk percentage. If Acuna Jr. is able to lead this game off with a patient approach, highlighted by his 11.5 percent walk rate he might be able to swipe a bag and get the Braves off to an early lead putting increased pressure on the young Marlins starter.

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