Cavalli takes perfecto into 6th, continues strong Triple-A stretch

July 7th, 2022

Don’t let the season-long numbers fool you. Cade Cavalli is back.

The top-ranked Nationals prospect continued his strong stretch with a near-flawless outing on Wednesday, taking a perfect game through 5 2/3 innings and finishing with seven scoreless. Cavalli struck out seven, allowed two hits and, for the first time this season, did not walk a batter in Triple-A Rochester’s 4-0 win over Lehigh Valley.

Cavalli’s stuff was on from the jump, as he struck out a pair in the first inning. From there, the righty went 17 up, 17 down before losing the bid on an 0-2 pitch to Chris Sharpe with two outs in the sixth. Cavalli allowed a leadoff single in the seventh but battled back with a strikeout and a ground-ball double play to end his night on a high note.

"It's like I always say, when I'm in the zone, throwing early strikes, it usually ends up being pretty good," Cavalli said. "I just have to compete in the zone a little better and that's what I did tonight. The results were good, I just have to keep that train going."

Since leaving his May 17 start with five earned runs in two-thirds of an inning and a season ERA of 7.62, Cavalli has completely turned his year around. In seven starts since, he has a 2.31 ERA over 39 innings.

That includes a two-week stretch in June where Cavalli wasn’t injured but did not pitch. With eyes on a potential Major League promotion, the Nationals chose to give him essentially a midseason breather. As a 2020 Draft pick who zoomed through the Minors, Cavalli only has one full season under his belt, and even that involved the 2021 schedule that didn’t begin until May.

"When I got skipped I kind of had to do a little mental reset," he said. "I had to find a path to continue my momentum without being able to compete in games. I threw a lot of bullpens. Me and [pitching coach Rafael Chaves] worked really hard together on competing in the zone.

"I liked the adversity. Trying to hug it, make it what it is. You have to go get better at those times, and that's where my head was at. I continued my work, continued my discipline every day. I think the process will teach you a lot of things along the way."

So with his sights surely set on making the leap to the Majors this year, Cavalli is starting to look like someone who will earn it. Already owning premium stuff and four above-average pitches, he has only been missing the consistent control as a final piece. By shaving off nearly two walks per nine innings over his last seven starts, Cavalli appears to be nearly ready for the jump.

"That's what I work for," he said. "I have a ton of confidence in myself and I wouldn't have that confidence if I didn't put in the work for it. I've proved I can get Triple-A hitters out and I'm going to keep working for the opportunity to get Major League hitters out."