Genesis Cabrera Learns From His Mistakes
When the Cardinals needed a starter in late May, they checked the reports and ran the radar readings on lefthander Genesis Cabrera’s recent starts for Triple-A Memphis. They had a stone-cold read on what he was going to throw in the majors.
Trouble is, so did the opposing hitters.
In two starts with the Cardinals—both losses—Cabrera allowed 13 hits and four walks in 8.1 innings, and in his second outing he did not get a swing and miss.
With an above-average curveball from the left side and a Carlos Martinez-like sinker that leaves his hand at 96-98 mph, Cabrera's results didn’t line up with his stuff until manager Mike Shildt explained how he was "volunteering some pitches."
Translation: the 22-year-old Cabrera was tipping his pitches.
"He’s got plenty of stuff," Shildt said. "If you’re able to pitch like he did, and they know what’s coming, but they don’t do damage on it—that’s stuff.”
Acquired in a trade last year with the Rays that sent Tommy Pham to Tampa Bay, Cabrera excited the Cardinals with his winter ball turn as a reliever. He came to spring training with a chance to win a spot as a lefty reliever and struggled. The Cardinals wondered if he was exhausted from an extended season.
An early cut from camp, Cabrera returned to starting at Triple-A and the extra innings expanded his game.
He started utilizing his curveball more often, becoming more deft with it, and went back-to-back quality starts with 10 strikeouts total to earn the promotion.
"The main thing here is, I can’t miss twice,” Cabrera said of his spin through the majors. "You can miss once. But the second time they will hit you.”
Returned to Memphis, Cabrera had an assignment to polish the knots out of his mechanics and erase the tells from his delivery. His sinker has enough sizzle, if hitters don’t know when it’s coming.
"(He can) help us for sure,” Shildt said. "I believe it will be this year. He’s got work on his craft.”
— An injury to Yadier Molina (hand) allowed the Cardinals to call up catcher Andrew Knizner for a fortnight and give him a feel for the major leagues, where he could be Molina’s backup by 2020 and his heir apparent in the year or two after, once Molina, whose current contract runs through 2020, decides to retire.
— Righthander Junior Fernandez, a breakout candidate for 2019, won the organization's pitcher of the month award for June, alongside player of the month Dylan Carlson. Fernandez had a 1.02 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 17.2 innings as a reliever at Double-A Springfield. Carlson hit .304 with a .952 OPS and 17 RBIs in May.