All hail Leo Mazzone! He who makes lemonade out of lemons and stud closers out of bullpen castaways has done it again. This time, Orioles SP Daniel Cabrera is the beneficiary of Mazzone’s magic.
Cabrera has always been tremendously talented, but his control has been nonexistent in his three seasons in the bigs. He struck out 157 batters in both 2005 and 2006, a feat that would have been a lot more impressive if he hadn’t been busy losing more games than he won, due largely in part to his high walk totals.
But now Cabrera seems to have turned a corner. In his second start of the season, against the AL Champion Tigers, Cabrera didn’t allow a three-ball count to any hitter until his last inning (the eighth). It was his first walkless outing since June 5, 2005, a span of 46 starts.
So far this season, Cabrera is 1-1 with a 3.66 ERA and 19 K compared to 5 BB. Not bad. If he can keep it up, he’ll be on pace for a career high in strikeouts (183) and, almost certainly, his first winning season.
As for Mazzone, you have to give credit where credit is due. Maybe he’s had the good fortune to coach great talents like Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux (much like Phil Jackson was lucky to have Jordan, Shaq and Kobe), but he’s also culled winning seasons from guys who have sucked elsewhere.