Have the Miami Marlins finally found their ace of the rotation in pitcher Sandy Alcantara?
If Sandy Alcantara shows up to every start and gives the Miami Marlins the kind of performance he did in the team’s season opener, then the chances of the team making the playoffs this season are looking better.
Of course, the other four starters in the rotation must do their part. Alcantara looked like an ace, working 6.2 innings and striking out seven Phillies in a 5-2 win on Saturday night. After over four months away from the mound, the Miami Marlins brought baseball back in a big way.
This is the Alcantara Miami Marlins fans had been waiting for. Not the one manager Don Mattingly talked about in the first half of the 2019 season where he challenged the pitcher to challenge hitters and show he could be dominant.
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This was the pitcher the Marlins front office had hoped for when the made him the top priority in a trade that sent Marcell Ozuna to the St. Louis Cardinals prior to the start of Spring Training in 2018. Everything went right for Alcantara in a 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night, the first night of the 2020 regular season for the Miami Marlins.
Hopefully, it is a sign of things to come. And for the pitching staff, it should mean that Alcantara is ready to lead this starting rotation, much like Michael Hill and Derek Jeter anticipated as they made the deal to send their slugger to the Cardinals for a prospect with plenty of promise.
"“His stuff is overpowering, right, when he stays aggressive and attacks the strike zone,” Marlins manager Mattingly said via MLB.com. “Then we were able to get him some runs, which takes the pressure off and gives us some breathing room.”"
Alcantara was given the ball on Opening Night, the first time in three seasons that someone other than Jose Urena got the call. It was a foregone conclusion, actually, that the flame-thrower would be asked to come in and show that this roster could make some noise in the first game of a shortened season.
Everything fell into place, especially Alcantara, who looked like he could be the first true ace of the staff since Jose Fernandez was on the mound throwing heat.
The win wasn’t just the start of excitement this season, it also leads me to think the Marlins may have won the trade with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Prior to the start of Spring Training in 2018, the Marlins continued their purge of talent by sending Ozuna to St. Louis (actually across the Spring Training complex in Jupiter, Florida) in return for Magneuris Sierra, Zac Gallen, and Daniel Castano.
Ozuna is now in Atlanta. Gallen was traded to Arizona for Jazz Chisholm, who is the team’s shortstop of the future. Sierra is on the team’s roster, adding speed to the bases. Castano is progressing in the Marlins minor league system.
With the changes to the team this season and the possibility of a march to the playoffs, the Marlins also want to see a return on their investments that have shaped this roster. The Ozuna trade is the one that stands out right now, but three other deals made in the Jeter era are still being judged.
The performance by Alcantara is something the Marlins can hang their hat on. He spoke with confidence after the win.
"“That gave me 100 percent confidence,” Alcantara said. “I was happy to be outside, and no matter what happened, just give 100 percent.”"