Caleb Smith has made it a point this year that he wants to go deeper into games. Barely make it through five innings isn’t cutting it anymore.
On Saturday, in his final start of the season, Smith only managed three innings.
Home runs, full-count walks and an elevated pitch count got the better of him in the Miami Marlins’ 9-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on at Citizens Bank Park. The loss ensures that the Marlins (56-105) will have the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. The Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles are respectively selecting first and second.
It also means the Marlins will have to win their season finale on Sunday in order to claim the season series against the Phillies (81-80). Miami, which is now 9-9 against Philadelphia this year, last won the season set against the Phillies in 2008.
Smith was at 71 pitches when the third inning — and his season — came to an end.
At that point, he had already given up six runs — five earned — on five hits and four walks. He struck out just one of the 18 batters he faced. All four walks came on full counts.
“Didn’t seem like it was real sharp tonight,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
And the trouble came right from the start.
He gave up a solo home run to Cesar Hernandez to lead off the bottom of the first.
Maikel Franco followed with a two-run homer in the second.
Three runs in the third — two on an Adam Haseley single and the third on a Deivy Grullon double.
“I pitched like shit,” Smith said.
Smith’s final stats for the 2019 season: A 10-11 record, a 4.52 ERA, 168 strikeouts, 60 walks and 33 home runs allowed over 153 1/3 inning this season (28 starts). Smith almost doubled his innings pitched total from last season, when he threw 77 1/3 innings in 16 starts before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a Grade 3 left lat strain.
Saturday marked a sour end to what started as a stellar season for Smith.
The 28-year-old lefty gave up four earned runs or more in seven of his final 10 starts. He lasted more than five innings in just half of those games but never made it past the sixth.
It’s a stark contrast to how Smith started the season. He had a 3.10 ERA, an 11.8 strikeout per nine inning rate and a .189 batting average against through his first 11 starts (61 innings), which included a string of six consecutive quality starts.
He missed a month after that initial run of success with a left hip injury.
“You see the wear and tear of a season,” Mattingly said. “As much as anything, Smitty has been battling physically not being totally right, I think, for a while but good enough to be able to pitch. I think the winter will be good for him from the standpoint of getting back, getting his body in shape, getting back to 100 percent and going from there.”
The Phillies added three more runs on a Bryce Harper home run against Wei-Yin Chen in the sixth.
The Marlins avoided the shutout when Starlin Castro’s two-out RBI single in the sixth scored Jon Berti from second base. Neil Walker hit a two-run homer in the eighth — his eighth of the year — to close the Marlins’ scoring.
This and that
▪ Shortstop Miguel Rojas will serve as the Marlins’ player manager for Sunday’s regular-season finale. It’s a tradition manager Don Mattingly has upheld all four years he has been with Miami.
▪ Catcher Jorge Alfaro, traded from Philadelphia to Miami in February as part of the J.T. Realmuto trade, hit a two-out double in the third. Alfaro has posted a .452 batting average (19/42) against the Phillies this season.
▪ Reliever Tayron Guerrero left Saturday’s game with a tight left groin in the eighth inning. He’s day to day.