Sandy Alcantara has turned the corner and become a productive major leaguer.
In two-plus seasons of major league baseball, Sandy Alcantara has won a total of six baseball games. Despite that, there is evidence that he has turned the corner as part of the Miami Marlins rotation.
Last season, in six starts near the end of the year, Alcantara went 2-3 with a 3.44 ERA, 30 strikeouts in 34 frames, and a 1.412 WHIP to his credit. Not overwhelming by any stretch, but good enough to warrant further consideration after the Marcell Ozuna trade. Of particular concern was his 6.1 walks issued per nine innings, which was far-and-away the highest such rate amongst Miami Marlins pitchers with over 20 innings through the campaign. Closest in comparability was Junichi Tazawa, who had 5.9 per nine before his merciful release.
When Alcantara was first acquired, he was envisioned as a possible future ace on a young pitching staff. When the 2019 season started, he was one of five “young guns” holding down the rotation. Jose Urena, Trevor Richards, Caleb Smith, and Pablo Lopez, along with Alcantara, made up a rotation with an average age of 25 years and seven months (Smith & Urena were 27.5, Richards nearly 26, Alcantara 23.5, & Lopez just a shade past his 23rd birthday). Acquired alongside Daniel Castano, Magneuris Sierra, and Zac Gallen in the aforementioned Ozuna deal, Alcantara was viewed as the closest thing to a “can’t miss” prospect. He’s also involved in giving back to the community:
In Alcantara’s first start this season, a 3-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies, he went eight innings and struck out six while allowing no runs on four hits and zero walks. Of course, that was an unsustainable rate, and Alcantara regressed over his next several starts. His next seven games would see him go 0-4 with a .310 opposing batting average and more walks (23) than strikeouts (22) in 36 innings. Then on May 19th, he showed what he could be:
Alcantara earned his first ever complete game shutout, holding the New York Mets to just two hits and a walks while striking out eight. From then until the end of July, Alcantara was more-or-less an average Joe on the mound.
Since the beginning of August, Alcantara has been a revelation. Despite posting an 0-2 record over those six starts, he has held opponents to a .167 average and struck out 34 in 39 2/3 innings. His WHIP over that span is 0.983.
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Despite Alcantara’s progress, he currently leads the National League with 76 free passes, and the only start in which he gave up zero walks was in that first-game gem. His walks allowed per-nine is down to a more manageable 4.2, but it’s likely he still has better to show us. On today, his 24th birthday, he’ll take in the Miami Marlins against the Kansas City Royals, and get his turn tomorrow opposite Mike Montgomery (3-7, 4.42).
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