Miami Marlins ace Sandy Alcántara is starting to establish himself as one of the bright young stars in the game. The 26-year-old right-hander has improved every season since his MLB debut in 2017. The combination of strikeout potential and durability make him a quality starter. Now he needs to do it with consistency.
Alcántara is one of many in a young, up-and-coming group of talented pitchers this team will showcase this year. He is looking to improve and carry the team as its ace and leader.
Miami Marlins Sandy Alcántara
Alcántara’s 2021 statistics were impressive, even though his win/loss total did not show it. His 9-15 record would have been much better if the bullpen had not blown several of his starts and if there had been more offensive/run support. He led MLB with 33 starts, posting career highs in innings pitched and strikeouts. He finished with a 3.19 ERA and 201 strikeouts—the first time he hit the 200-strikeout plateau in his career. Alcántara was also one of only four pitchers to log over 200 innings last season.
He Has a Variety of Pitches
Miami Marlins Sandy Alcántara shows many different pitches in a game, but his fastball is the crucial pitch in his arsenal. That fastball velocity generally comes in between 95-98 MPH, even hitting the hard-to-believe 100+ MPH mark on several occasions,
He also dominates hitters with his sinker and slider. On top of that, he has also developed a changeup which has emerged as his signature pitch. He uses his changeup effectively to get groundball outs. Furthermore, Alcántara’s rising strikeout numbers can partly contribute to the increased usage of the changeup. Mixing that pitch in with his fastball keeps hitters guessing.
Alcántara’s Surprise Extension
There is no doubt that the All-Star is the ace of this Marlins’ staff. In the past two seasons, Alcántara has improved his game. Plus, to the surprise of many in the baseball world, especially Marlin fans, he was rewarded with a contract extension. Before the MLB lockout, the Marlins signed Alcántara to a five-year, $56 million contract extension. The deal also includes a club option that could keep him in Miami through 2027.
The length and value were the largest ever for a first-year, arbitration-eligible pitcher in MLB history. It is also the most extended contract tenured to a player under this Marlins ownership group.
A New Catcher to Help
In late November, the Marlins traded for catcher Jacob Stallings from the Pittsburgh Pirates. He brings a lot of defense that should help the team. Stallings is a recipient of the 2021 National League Rawlings Gold Glove Award. Stallings was the only catcher in MLB without a passed ball last season. Another vital stat that only benefits Alcántara—all the Marlins pitchers—is his second-place finish in all of MLB with 21 defensive runs saved while throwing out 11 of 43 base-stealers in 103 starts.
The Marlins and the National League East
After a 17-year drought during the 2020 shortened season, the Marlins entered the playoffs. After their playoff run, Miami had hoped to continue that momentum in 2021. Instead, extended injuries to the rotation, an over-used bullpen, and a lineup that could not get runs across put them in the doldrums early and led to a 95-loss campaign.
The National League East figures to be one of the baseballs’ most competitive divisions again this season. However, with an improving starting rotation of young pitchers—with Alcántara leading the way—and the expanded playoffs schedule, could the Marlins looking at a postseason position for 2022?
Potential NL Cy Young Candidate
The Marlins announced Alcántara will be the starter on Opening Day, a third for his career and tying Josh Beckett and Josh Johnson for most in Marlins history.
Assuming Alcántara continues to build on his impressive 2021 season, could he be a sleeper as an NL Cy Young candidate? It is indeed a possibility! It won’t be long until the rest of the baseball world sees what the Marlins and their fans already know; he is an exciting pitcher and will only get better.