Miami Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara has been anything but himself this season, and last night was more of the same. Sandy had a solid six innings and though he was shaky at times he made it through with only two earned and then in the seventh inning he walked the first two batters which spelled disaster for the Marlins. Perhaps is was a combined groundswell moment from the prior inning when the Marlins had the bases loaded and no outs and only scored one run, but fans know that sadly this is more of the same.
The month of May was better for the Marlins ace but no where close to what fans are used to seeing. Alcantara started six games for the Miami Marlins in May and totaled 39 innings, 34 strikeouts, 16 walks, a BAbip of .297, and a 4.85 ERA. His one win and three losses for May is not what was expected as he had one one start against a playoff caliber team.
A few concerning trends for Alcantara have emerged which most similarly mirror his 2019 season, which he ended with a 3.88 ERA and 1.318 WHIP. Alcantara's home run percentage has slightly increased this year going from 1.8% last year to 2.1%, his strikeout percentage has dropped from 23.4% to 20.5%, and his walk rate has really jumped from 5.6% to 8.5%, and finally his hard hit rate jumped from 38.8% to 40.5%.
All of those increases are a direct result of his pitch location and what hitters are doing with his pitches this season which is closest matched to his 2019 output and not what we have seen the past tw0 seasons. When Alcantara is successful he can induce groundballs and this year his rate has dropped 10% from 53.2% to 43.4%. That stat alone means of course the other percentages are higher and his line drive percentage jumped from 18.9% to 26.3%, which is likely the majority of the difference in games and starts this year. His flyball rate is up as well going from 19.8% to 23.9%.
The most striking stat is the struggle Alcantara has had with runners on base, which has drastically changed from the past two seasons. In the 2021 and 2022 seasons Sandy posted a .227 and .228 batting average for hitters with runners on base and in the current 2023 campaign, hitters averages with runners on base is at an alarming rate of .330. The BAbip has increased as well with it sitting at .400 this year as compared to the mid to low .200s in the two years prior.
This could also be a factor of his pitch usage change this year, where he has decreased use of his changeup by 1% and his slider by 2% and funneling all those other pitches into his fastball use. This could be the ultimate reason why he is struggling and his chase rate on pitches outside of the zone has decreased this year as he is throwing more hard pitches and not changing speeds and dancing around just outside the zone.