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2021 Marlins Season Review: Edward Cabrera

Cabrera thrived when facing minor leaguers, but faced new challenges in his first taste of The Show.

Miami Marlins pitcher Edward Cabrera (79) throws against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the second inning at loanDepot Park. Photo by Jim Rassol/USA TODAY Sports

The team’s 2nd-ranked prospect according to MLB.com, Edward Cabrera showed glimpses of why talent evaluators are high on the 23-year-old.

2021 Timeline

  • February 19: Sidelined from throwing with an inflamed nerve in right biceps.
  • March 10: Optioned to AAA Jacksonville.
  • April 12: Reported to be throwing from 75 feet.
  • May 4: Completes 20-pitch bullpen session after throwing from 105 feet for the past two weeks.
  • June 2: Throws 35 pitches over two innings in extended spring game.
  • June 6: Pitches three scoreless innings at Low-A Jupiter.
  • June 20: Rehab moved to AA Pensacola, striking out 7 and allowing 1 run over 4 13 innings.
  • July 13: Promoted to AAA Jacksonville.
  • August 25: Recalled from AAA to make debut against Washington.
  • August 26: Allows 3 runs over 6 13 innings in 4-3 win, walking 2 and earning a no-decision.

  • September 12: Departed start against Atlanta after 3 23 innings with a sore big right toe.
  • September 30: Removed from start against the Mets due to a blister on right middle finger.

By the Numbers

Assessing Edward Cabrera’s 2021 season doesn’t do justice to the potential the young right-hander possesses.

In 26 13 innings over 7 starts, Cabrera finished 0-3 with an ERA of 5.81. His 19 walks contributed greatly to a 6.63 FIP. He was constantly working with traffic on the basepaths (1.633 WHIP).

But how much stock do you put into these numbers considering the recurring injuries—right biceps inflammation, a toe injury, and a season-ending blister issue—that hung over Cabrera all season long?

After all, these injuries limited Cabrera to just 87 23 innings across A, AA, AAA and The Show this past season.

Prior to getting the call to make his debut in late August, Cabrera had been among Minor League Baseball’s most effective pitchers, posting a 2.93 ERA over 61 13 innings, in which he struck out 92 hitters (13.5 K/9). And while peripheral metrics discount the importance of ERA to an extent, it is important to note, should one still be filled with concern about how Cabrera projects, that his ERA gradually increased with each promotion in 2021.

Edward Cabrera’s 2021 season stats
Edward Cabrera’s 2021 season stats
Baseball-Reference

Cabrera’s pitch mix is led by a high-90s fastball that finished in the 92nd percentile in average velocity, according to Baseball Savant. His slider has top-of-the-scale 80 grade potential, per FanGraphs—big league hitters hit just .083 with a .167 slugging percentage and 39.6% whiff rate against it in 2021.

Edward Cabrera’s percentile rankings, 2021
Baseball-Savant

The weak link of Cabrera’s repertoire right now is his changeup. By weighted on-base average (.647 wOBA), it generated some of the worst results of any individual MLB pitch.

Highlights

Will Cabrera Be Back in 2022?

Absolutely. Given his projectability and the fact that the team still holds 6 years of club control, Cabrera will either continue to take his lumps or build upon his 2021 debut.

Because he threw less than 90 innings this past year, Miami could be inclined to start Cabrera in the bullpen in order to build him up as the season progresses. But should the suspect command we saw in the Majors in 2021 not sort itself out, perhaps a relief role will ultimately prove to be the best utilization of his talents. In a worst-case scenario where he’s simply ineffective, the Marlins still hold a minor league option on him.