Cosart bolsters case for rotation spot

Cosart bolsters case for rotation spot

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The time for "working on things" is almost over. To Jarred Cosart, he's at the point in Spring Training where he's also focused on results.

Cosart continued to build his case to be part of the Marlins' rotation with the way he threw on Monday. The right-hander tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings and struck out four batters in Miami's 2-1 win over the Mets at Tradition Field.

The 25-year-old righty has gone 9 2/3 shutout frames in Grapefruit League action. He also singled off Jacob deGrom in his first at-bat. That gives him a 0.00 ERA and a 1.000 batting average.

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Most encouraging for Cosart is he's healthy after being bothered by an inner ear infection in 2015. He's also refining his delivery to the point where the quality of his pitches is progressing.

"We've worked on stuff all camp," Cosart said. "Now, it's about throwing that out, and in these last two or three starts, getting down to how to get people out, and go into how I'm going to pitch in the regular season."

The major adjustment Cosart has made is a simple one: He's keeping his left elbow closed longer in his windup, which has helped him get more downward movement on his fastball.

"I've never put so much work on one thing," Cosart said. "Now, we're starting to incorporate some other things. It's just getting more and more fun for me. I feel right now, throwing [70] pitches is right where I need to be."

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The only issue with the outing was his strike-to-ball ratio. Of his 70 pitches, 38 were strikes. He walked two batters.

"He's throwing up zeroes and not giving up runs," manager Don Mattingly said. "His stuff is playing. Probably a little higher pitch count than you want in 3 2/3 [innings], but there are things we're still working on. We're getting outs. We're going in the right direction."

When Cosart was in trouble, he was able to execute the necessary pitches to keep his scoreless streak in tact.

In the third inning, the right-hander stranded a runner on second with two outs by striking out Curtis Granderson swinging on a 79 mph curveball with the count full. The threat ended when David Wright grounded out to second.

Cosart exited with two outs and two on in the fourth. He fell behind Michael Conforto 3-1 before yielding a double to left, which put Cosart's spring scoreless streak in jeopardy.

Hechavarria's jump throw

A sparkling defensive play by shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria gave Cosart a big boost in the frame. On Wilmer Flores' grounder into the hole at short, Hechavarria was able to throw out Conforto trying to advance to third.

"It's very comforting to me as a pitcher," Cosart said of having stellar defense. "Obviously, we still give them compliments when they do that, but it's kind of like, 'Yeah, another walk in the park.' "

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.