Cashner named top hurler by local BBWAA chapter
Evolving Padres righty honored with Clyde McCullough Pitcher of the Year Award
SAN DIEGO -- One of the biggest joys Padres manager Bud Black got out of the 2013 season was having a front-row seat for the maturation of pitcher Andrew Cashner.
"The growth in understanding how he's going to get his outs and lay the foundation of what's going to work for him ... him figuring that out was exciting to watch," Black said.
On Wednesday, Cashner was unanimously named the recipient of the Clyde McCullough Pitcher of the Year Award, as voted on by the San Diego chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
The Padres will announce the Most Valuable Player Award on Thursday.
Cashner shined in his first full season as a starter, going 10-9 with a 3.09 ERA in 31 games (26 starts). He got better as the season went on, posting a 2.25 ERA in August and a 0.76 mark in the last month of the season, which included a near no-hitter against the Pirates.
Overall, Cashner ranked 10th in the National League in ERA (3.04) among starters with at least 25 starts.
To be sure, Cashner truly arrived in 2013, his first full Major League season -- and Black thinks the right-hander is nowhere near his ceiling of potential.
"I still think that there's more room to grow," Black said. "And I think he realizes that and embraces that challenge of getting better. He made big strides in a short period of time. ... But I know he's not satisfied, which is a great thing."
Cashner said his rise started about halfway through the season, when he challenged himself in each start to using his fastball more, a sinker that proved devastating at times. Cashner credited his pitching coach, Darren Balsley, on Wednesday for his development.
Cashner also switched to a more traditional grip on his slider and wasn't afraid to use his changeup in different counts. That four-pitch mix caused trouble for the opposition.
"I think I had trouble getting over the top of my slider. At times, it felt like it was never there, like I was searching for it the whole first half," Cashner said in a conference call. "Working with Balsley, talking to [teammate] Tyson Ross about how he threw his slider ... that's when things changed."
Beginning with a start on July 10 against the Rockies, Cashner went on a roll of 12 starts in which he didn't allow more than three earned runs to complete the season. He didn't allow more than two earned runs in a start in his final six.
On Sept. 16 at PNC Park, Cashner threw his first shutout, allowing one hit with no walks to go with seven strikeouts. He retired the first 18 batters he faced before Jose Tabata singled to start the seventh inning. All told, Cashner faced the minimum 27 batters.
"That was one of the coolest games of my life," Cashner said. "Throwing a no-hitter is definitely a goal of mine."
The 27-year-old finished his season by going 3-4 with a 1.70 ERA and a .199 opponents' batting average over his final nine starts from Aug. 2-Sept. 22. He did not allow an earned run over his final 16 innings and allowed three earned runs over his final five starts.
Earlier this month, Cashner was nominated for two Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Awards for Breakout Pitcher of the Year and Top Pitching Performance for his near no-no against the Pirates.