The future is now! The Washington Nationals’ top pitching prospect Cade Cavalli will be making his MLB debut Friday against the Cincinnati Reds!
Cade Cavalli’s 2022 season has been a tale of two halves. Making his minor league debut last year, he exceeded any expectations — rising from A+ to AAA while leading the minors in strikeouts. His impressive 2021 campaign led many to believe entering this season that a first-half call-up was in sight. Unfortunately, Cavalli stumbled out of the gate –going 1-3, with an ugly 7.62 ERA, and 27 strikeouts through his first seven starts. Command was a key issue, walking 14 batters and when he was able to keep the ball in the zone, opponents were teeing off of him (opponents were hitting .270).
Over his last 13 starts, Cavalli has transformed into the pitcher Washington envisioned he could become when they draft drafted him — going 5-1, with a 2.10 ERA, and 77 strikeouts. Concerted load management has played a major part in his turnaround. A year after throwing a career-high 123 1/3 innings, the Nats have limited his workload so he doesn’t get overworked. After sitting for two weeks in June, he made three starts in July, allowing one unearned run across 15 1/3 innings, while striking out 16. Most impressively, he only walked three batters over that span.
Cavalli’s last two starts have been his most impressive outings of the season. Against Baltimore’s loaded AAA team, he allowed one run across seven innings, while striking out a season-high 11. He followed this up by carving up Boston’s AAA affiliate — striking out the first six batters he faced. Cavalli faltered in the fifth inning, walking two and throwing a wild pitch — finishing his out allowing only one run while striking out eight.
After each of Cavalli’s last few starts, the question was beginning to arise of when would he finally be called up. Command questions still linger, but for over two straight months the righty has become nearly unhittable, showcasing he has little left to prove at AAA.
The Nationals coaching staff agrees — announcing that Cavalli will make his debut this Friday at Nationals Park against the struggling Reds. To make room on the 40-man roster, pitcher Corey Abbott was optioned to AAA.
Alongside Jackson Rutledge and Cole Henry, Cavalli was envisioned as part of the Nationals’ future big three and it’s not hard to understand why. The 6’4, 240-pound righty has a 70-grade fastball that sits in the upper 90s and has exceeded 100 mph. Behind that are his primary out pitches — his slider and curveball that have impressive movement. Rounding out his repertoire is his changeup, a pitch that he has continued to work on.
Drafted by Washington 22nd overall in 2020, the 24-year-old is the most hyped Nationals pitching prospect since Lucas Giolito. While his stuff is undeniable, everything comes down to limiting free passes. He’s shown some improvement in that regard — lowering his BB/9 from 4.4 last year to 3.6 this season.
With newly acquired MacKenzie Gore projected to make his Nationals debut before the end of the season, Washington’s future rotation is slowly coming together.