PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – As reported this afternoon, Washington Nationals pitcher Cade Cavalli departed Tuesday afternoon’s game against the New York Mets in the third inning after throwing what could be considered one of the best pitching performances of this year’s Nationals Spring Training.
The rookie and 1st round-pick in 2020 right-hander was throwing 97 mph fastballs and mixing in curveballs, sliders, and a couple of changeups, retiring eight of the first nine Mets hitters surrendering zero to hard contact until the third inning when he exited the game.
“I think that’s the best I’ve seen him since I’ve known him,” catcher Keibert Ruiz remarked after the Nationals finished playing the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
According to manager Davey Martinez, who made his way from the dugout alongside head athletic trainer Paul Lessard, Cavalli “felt something behind his throwing elbow.”
It may be a while until official word comes out from the Washington Nationals on Cavalli’s status – he’s scheduled to have an MRI on his elbow Wednesday, with results perhaps to be read by multiple doctors – but it’s now normal for Nationals fans and the Nationals organization to have some fear that the organization’s top pitching prospect might have suffered a significant injury a little more than two weeks away from Opening Day, perhaps tearing his elbow ligament.
“I’m not going to assume anything because these things could be … you don’t know what it’s going to be,” Martinez said following an otherwise encouraging 5-0 exhibition win. “But we’re going to get an MRI on him tomorrow, and we’ll see what’s going on.”
Until the moment many might fear, Cavalli was cruising along a tough New York Mets lineup by getting Brandon Nimmo and Starling Marte out and throwing 11 of his 13 pitches for strikes. He only issued a one-out walk to Mark Canha in the second but nothing else, retiring Luis Guillorme on a weak comebacker that led to some back-and-forth jawing between the two and striking out Mark Vientos with an 0-2 curveball.
The positive vibes continued in the bottom of the third when Cavalli induced two more groundball outs, completing his first trip through the New York lineup with no hits allowed in the bottom of the third. With a couple of more outs left, he wasn’t just putting together his best start of the spring. He was well on his way to the best start by any member of the Nationals rotation this spring to date.
“He looked unbelievable,” Martinez said. “I was pumped up, excited. He was throwing the ball really well.” Ruiz remarked, “I saw as soon as he threw the last pitch, he was doing something different with his arm… That’s why we called time, and Davey and the trainer went out there. I hope everything will be fine. I feel bad for him. And for us, obviously, it’s bad news. But we’ve just got to pray for him and hope everything’s good.”
Nationals nation will have to hold its breath while we wait for the results of the MRI.