Sandy Alcántara wanted the Opening Day nod and he didn’t disappoint. He shined through 6 2⁄3 innings of three hits and two earned runs, along with seven strikeouts and only two bases on balls. Everything worked great for the Marlins’ ace on Friday.
Sandy Alcantara: incredible— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) July 25, 2020
6.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 7 K, 1 HR (87 pitches) pic.twitter.com/7O2y3MfXDH
The Dominican righty retired the first seven Phillies he faced before allowing a line-drive single from Scott Kingery at the bottom of the third. Besides that hit, all he gave up was a home run from Didi Gregorius and an infield hit from speedster Roman Quinn.
But why didn’t the Phils find any success against Sandy? That was, in part, because they were 2-for-11 against Alcántara’s 95+ MPH pitches. And no, neither of the two hits was Gregorius’ dinger.
Also, his changeup was incredibly nasty. I mean, if it continues like that, we might be witnessing an improved version of Sandy. He got three of his seven punchouts with that pitch and opponent hitters went 0-for-6. It generated an 84.1 MPH exit velocity. How about that?
Last year, he didn’t have that kind of success with the changeup. It produced a .274 batting average against and a .396 slugging percentage. Not bad, but nothing like Friday. So keep an eye on that moving forward.
This time, he didn’t appeal to his four-seam fastball as much as with his sinker. Last year, he threw the latter just 27.6 percent of the time. He began this season throwing it almost as twice as that (43.7%). And it paid off in his first outing of the campaign: 2-for-10, with two strikeouts.
All of his pitches combined for a really nice 84.8 MPH exit velocity, despite Gregorius’ four-bagger. By the way, somehow Sandy increased the velocity of his fastball and sinker. According to Brooks Baseball, the former was clocked at 95.9 MPH last year and 97.4 on Friday. The sinker was at 95.6 MPH in 2019 overall, but at 96.8 MPH against Philadelphia.
Alcántara is expected to face the Orioles at Baltimore on Wednesday, in theory, an easier opponent than the Phillies. Based on the schedule, he should meet Philadelphia later on August 4.
This is a small sample, but the 24-year-old has us excited after what he did on Opening Day.