Marlins’ Cosart pitches two perfect innings in spring training debut

Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jarred Cosart needed just 24 pitches to dispose of the St. Louis Cardinals in order over the first two innings on Sunday.

Jeff Roberson/AP

JUPITER, Fla. — Going through the motions isn’t part of the competitive spirit of Miami Marlins right-hander Jarred Cosart.

In his spring debut, Cosart pitched two perfect innings in the Marlins’ 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium.

The 24-year-old righty needed just 24 pitches (16 strikes) to dispose of the Cardinals in order over the first two innings. He struck out Jason Heyward swinging and Jhonny Peralta looking. 

His fiery approach falls in line with what righty Dan Haren recently told him about three-time National League Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw.

"He’s trying to get the other guys out," Cosart said. "If there’s a certain game where the pitching coach says, ‘Hey, I feel like you need to throw some more changeups,’ then we do that. I don’t like giving up hits even if it’s spring training. I don’t care if the hitters are behind or the pitchers are behind. It’s a good feeling to get people out and be able to execute pitches to both sides of the plate. I think that’s what we’re all trying to do."

Acquired at the trade deadline from the Houston Astros, Cosart went 4-4 with a 2.39 ERA in 10 starts with the Marlins. He finished his first full big-league season 13-11 with a 3.69 ERA in 30 starts between the Astros and Marlins.

Aside from being drafted in the 38th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, Cosart added an extra chip on his shoulder when the Astros gave him up with less than a year’s worth of service time in the majors.

"I really feel like we were fortunate to get this guy," manager Mike Redmond said. "This guy’s going to be a huge part of our staff going forward, was last year. I think we faced him last year when he was with Houston and we all loved his stuff. It was just a matter of tightening up his offspeed pitches, and I know he’s working hard with Chuck (Hernandez) on that. This guy’s got a big arm and he’s a great competitor and he’s going to be fun to watch for a long time around here."

Cardinals 5, Marlins 2

By no means a complete pitcher, Cosart has built off that late-season success. He is projected as either the second or third starter in the rotation. His advancement comes down to throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters, setting up advantageous counts and a quick tempo.

Various sources have provided Cosart with enough mental fodder to improve his game. Cosart has observed the way teammates review video and mentally prepare for outings. Catchers Jarrod Saltalmacchia and Jeff Mathis will recommend certain pitches in counts — like a cutter inside to a righty — that he executed for the Peralta strikeout. Heyward told him last year that his four-seam fastball is tricky for lefties. Hernandez and Haren have emphasized the mental aspect.

Cosart has seen his progression, or the "pieces come together." But he knows it can’t end yet, especially with the sour taste of issuing a season-high eight walks in the 2014 finale at Washington.

"All in all it’s a big experiment as a pitcher, especially during spring training," Cosart said. "There’s a lot of different things I’m working on, but at the same time you’re not trying to show –€” we’re going to see these guys this year. We’re going to see the Nationals a lot this year — so it’s being efficient with your work but not try to show everything you have."

You can follow Christina De Nicola on Twitter @CDeNicola13 or email her at cdenicola13@gmail.com.