Andrew Cashner was one of the free-agent bargains of 2017, as he spun 166.2 innings for the Rangers with a 3.40 ERA. Nothing in the underlying numbers points to it being sustainable, however. Cashner had a career-low 4.6 K/9, and he didn't become an elite control specialist along the way (3.5 BB/9). Not surprisingly, his FIP (4.61) was more than a full run higher than his ERA. Looking under the hood of his .266 BABIP (career .290), Cashner had his lowest hard-hit rate (28.4 percent) since 2013, and his highest soft-contact rate (18.5 percent) in any of his eight MLB seasons. For the second straight season, Cashner had a contact rate in the strike zone above 90 percent. He allowed contact outside the zone more than ever (74.9 percent, third among qualified MLB starters). In order to repeat something even close to the same level of success in 2018, Cashner will need a good defense behind him, and he'll need to land in a more pitcher-friendly home park.
Cashner threw a three-inning simulated game on a back field at the Orioles' spring complex Tuesday, the Baltimore Sun reports. According to manager Buck Showalter, everything went as planned in the session, and Cashner continues to stretch out away from Grapefruit League games for the time being. With just over three weeks to go before Opening Day, Cashner has enough time to make two or three starts in spring games and still increase his workload enough to be ready for regular duty when the season begins.
Cashner will not receive a $17.4M qualifying offer from the Rangers, Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.com reports. Cashner had a solid season for the Rangers, finishing with a 11-11 record and a 3.40 ERA over 166.2 innings, although he did have a low K/9 in 2017, sitting at 4.64. Cashner's injury history is likely another reason that the Rangers decided not to make him a qualifying offer -- it's unclear at this point where the 31-year-old right-hander will end up for the 2018 season.
Cashner (11-11) picked up the win Saturday against the Athletics, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks across six innings of work. He struck out two. Like his last start, the right-hander was plagued with bad defense behind him, but he managed to work his way out of trouble for the most part despite tossing just over half his pitches for strikes. Cashner will finish the 2017 campaign with a solid 3.40 ERA, although fantasy owners should be ready for some regression in 2018 given his 4.65 FIP. His fantasy value heading into next season will also vary depending on where he lands in free agency.
Cashner (10-11) was roughed up for eight runs (but just one earned) on six hits and two walks with two strikeouts over 3.2 innings and took the loss Monday to the Astros. Cashner wasn't helped by his defense, but he pitched poorly despite the two errors. He managed just nine first-pitch strikes to 22 hitters and mustered just five swinging strikes on 82 pitches. Cashner has failed to finish the fifth inning in two of his past three starts after throwing at least six innings for four straight outings.
Cashner (10-10) gave up three runs on six hits and three walks over six innings Wednesday while striking out two to earn the win in an 8-6 victory over the Mariners. A seven-run fourth inning by the Rangers gave Cashner all the offense he would need on the night, although his bullpen made things interesting after he exited the game. It's the righty's fourth quality start in his last five outings, and his 3.45 ERA over that stretch has helped fuel Texas' improbable climb back into the AL wild-card race. Cashner will next take the mound Monday at home against the Astros, whom he held to one run over eight innings in his best start of the season back on Aug. 30.