Sandy Alcantara takes the mound in the final game of the season for Miami Marlins as they face the Philadelphia Phillies this afternoon.
If I have learned anything about this season covering the Miami Marlins, it’s that records mean nothing. If you follow the path of starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara, you see a 5-14 record that speaks nothing about how the youngster is becoming one of the better starters in the Majors.
His All-Star appearance this season may have been an omen, a start of something big and the hint that the Marlins organization hit a home run in the deal to send Marcell Ozuna to the St. Louis Cardinals last offseason.
If the 23-year-old can harness his fastball and continue to make improvements on his delivery and control, the wins will come and the team down in Miami might have a true Cy Young candidate in 2020.
In the game against the Mets last Tuesday, Alcantara was dominant, allowing just two runs over seven innings. He would have been in line for the decision, but you guessed it, the bullpen lost the lead. It’s been one of the storylines all season for this team. The relief effort has been less than mediocre and hitting in key situations has been absent. There has been growth, but not enough to show in the box score or the record books.
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Alcantara is in line to become the team’s Opening Day starter next season. He currently has a 3.95 ERA and has struck out 146 batters this season.
The Marlins face the Phillies and Blake Parker, who is 3-2 this season with a 4.18 ERA and 63 strikeouts. This is only his second start of the season as the team made the decision to shut Aaron Nola down after getting 200 innings.
Miami is also hoping for a better ending to Alcantara’s season than the one Caleb Smith endured last night in Philadelphia.
Smith finished 2019 10-11 after a 3-0 start and plenty of promise. Home runs on the road have been his weakness this season.
"“Things didn’t go my way,” Smith said of his second-half struggles. “I didn’t throw the ball the way I needed to the second half, and today was the exact same. The first half, I did good. I think the stuff is still there. I think it’s just command or not executing pitches.”"
The first half of 2019 looked so promising for Smith, who posted a 3.50 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 13 starts. The wheels came off after the All-Star break as he posted a 5.42 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 15 starts.