If the San Diego Padres drew it up right, Andrew Cashner is not going to get a very many more turns for the team.
… well, at least for the year, anyway. Playoff contention could throw a wrench in that plan, of course, but as the Friars are still mired in fourth place in the NL West at a full 10 games back of both the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers and a Wild Card spot, their hope to keep their young fireballer to around 150 innings or so is more likely to come to fruition with each game.
And that’s not to say that they’re doing it because Cashner has shown significant signs of slowing, either.
If anything, he’s been doing is just the opposite — and they will need that version of the 26-year-old in 2014 to help anchor what will be a new-look rotation.
Outside of a pre-break implosion (two innings, six runs) against the Washington Nationals on July 5, it’s been full-speed ahead for the right-hander. He’s won three of his last four starts, allowing no more than three runs in each of those turns — with the most recent trio being quality starts to boot.
That streak is second only to the five straight quality starts that he reeled off in the month of June, and all you have to do is as the New York Yankees just how good this guy is. The Bombers — Curtis Granderson and all — were the most recent victims of Cashner’s run, as the hurler tossed seven innings of shutout ball on seven hits and a pair of strikeouts.
No, the whiffs have been underwhelming, but the start still represented another major step forward in the form of another zero — in the base-on balls department.
See, control has been a big part of Cashner’s success this season as he’s essentially reinvented his repertoire for a starting role (less heat, fewer sliders, more changeups). So when he allows a whopping 13 walks over 19 innings in July, the Padres had good reason to be concerned (even if the results were still mostly positive).
Well, with his first walk-free outing since the end of May and his first start of over six innings since June 23, I think it’s fair to say that the righty took a big step in getting over that hurdle.
At 118.1 innings of work already, Cashner has already thrown more innings than he ever has in any year (majors and minors combined) as a pro player; having already seemingly conquered the injury bug that’s bitten him hard over the last few seasons, the soft 150-innings limit he’ll have means he might get about five more starts.
If his latest performance is any indication, he’s ready to make each one of them a must-see event.