During the spring, the young arms in the Marlins rotation gained popularity due to their strong results. Caleb Smith could be emerging as the ace of this evolving staff. Smith has won three of his first six starts with a 2.00 ERA, 3.00 xFIP and 0.83 WHIP. He’s also racked up 45 strikeouts in 36 innings against nine walks for a 26.9 strikeouts minus walks percentage. Smith’s limited hitters to a .168 batting average against which ranks fifth among all starting pitchers.

According to the Marlins, Smith’s first six starts rank highly in the the franchise’s history. Only Josh Johnson (2011) and Dontrelle Willis (2005) recorded a lower ERA through their first six starts. Smith also ranks second in batting average against and in WHIP. Entering his start versus the Cubs, Smith leads all qualified starters in WHIP while placing fourth in ERA and third in swinging strike percentage (34.9 percent).

Smith’s underlying data reinforces his surge at the onset of 2019. He’s increased his...