The Marlins made a number of moves yesterday and they were all well deserved. Ben Meyer was called up to the majors (4.09 ERA in 10 Triple-A starts). So was Trevor Richards (2.06 ERA in six starts with only 4 walks). Jacksonville starter Pablo Lopez was promoted to Triple-A and finished with a strong line—6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 K—in his New Orleans Baby Cakes debut.
Still feels like something is missing, though…yes, it’s that huge piece from the Marcell Ozuna trade...last name starting with an A?
Why not Sandy Alcántara? He should be up too! Here are just a few reasons why it should be a no-brainer move for the team. At the very least, his call-up should not be far off.
Like my man J. Cole said in the The Friday Night Lights mixtape, “Back to the topic.”
Alcántara has pitched 66 1⁄3 innings and given up only 58 hits. This is always a plus. Generally, you’re looking for a 1:1 ratio for innings pitched to hits given up in the high-scoring Pacific Coast League. Batters are hitting under .240 against him this year. To put that in perspective, Ben Meyer was called up with a .250 batting average against.
The low 6.51 K/9 raises some eyebrows, but honestly, getting outs any way you can matters most. The high-contact style hasn’t hurt him because of a 56% ground ball rate. These are all very good signs of a pitcher who can help the Marlins now.
Alcántara possesses some of the most electric stuff in the organization. Despite a need to continue to show improved command, the fact that he is getting outs speaks to the luxuries that are afforded to a guy with his arm talent. Walks often don’t come around to score against him because of the considerable number of double plays resulting from pulled contact and ground balls.
I subscribe to the theory of higher fastball usage with guys that have extreme velocity, which he possesses. The combination of mid-to-high 90s heaters and high 80’s sliders will make batters uncomfortable at any level.
The Marlins are in a rebuilding situation where they would benefit from having Alcántara develop chemistry with his future teammates. Lewis Brinson, Brian Anderson and Caleb Smith have been up all season, and now Meyer and Richards have joined them. He is close in age to these players and should expect to grow close with them long term (all are under club control through at least 2023). It’s encouraging for young guys to test themselves against the deep major league talent pool and discover that they have the skills to compete with anybody.
Imagine this Marlins starting rotation: José Ureña, Smith, Alcantara, Richards and Lopez. Oops…did I slide Lopez’s name in there? I did. His dominance this year also merits a promotion to the highest level.
We always say Double-A is the testing ground for future major leaguers, and Lopez made it look easy. He is an AP student who completed an “Advanced Pitching” course, missing more bats than Alcántara and inducing a higher ground ball rate without the same special stuff. Not to mention he has very strong mound presence, which will serve him well in the projected fourth/fifth starter role.
Listen, I know that the Marlin Renaissance will take some time—there’s no need to rush Alcántara or Lopez through the system. But this brings excitement to Marlins fans, staff and the future core players. It would also send a message to their new 2018 draftees, “If you perform at your absolute best, we are willing to give you the opportunity to advance and bring a championship to Miami as soon as possible.”
Where do veterans Wei-Yin Chen and Dan Straily fit in?
We have run out of patience with Chen. His earned run average remains extremely high (5.86) and he has had years to prove if he can have an impact. Approaching his 33rd birthday, his numbers yell, “My best years have past.” There’s no role for the left-hander in the future and his contract is immovable. Just release him.
Straily is a tougher situation. His character, commitment and performance over the last few years are much appreciated. However, the jump in his walk rate, his inability to pitch deep into games, the increasing line drive rate and frequent hard contact against him suggest that the Marlins should try to sell high to a pitching-needy team. Find a nice destination where he can win and acquire some assets in return. He deserves that!
I know some may see this as a bold proposition, but I believe it is one that may be worthwhile for all Marlins parties involved.