It’s been known since March that Sandy Alcántara wants to start on Opening Day. And he should. Even though José Ureña and Caleb Smith might also be in the running to begin the season on July 24 against the Phillies at Philadelphia, Alcántara is the most appropriate choice to receive the ball on Day 1.
On the 2019 Marlins, the Dominican was their best starting pitcher. I know Caleb Smith was great during the first half of the season and youngsters like Jordan Yamamoto and Elieser Hernández had their moments. But Sandy was the most effective one during the whole campaign despite losing 14 of his 20 decisions.
There are several reasons why the 24-year-old could represent the best chance for the Marlins to take the W on the first day of the season. In case I need to convince you about this, let’s take a look at his career split stats.
First, he’s been awesome almost every time he’s faced the Phillies. He has a 3-1 lifetime record and a 2.81 ERA. In 25 2⁄3 innings, he’s allowed 30 hits and eight earned runs while striking out 23 batters. But wait a minute: in three of his four starts, he’s gone at least six frames and has surrendered one or zero runs. Those three wins came despite having poor run support (2.7 runs).
The thing is he had a really ugly outing on April 12 last year (5.0 IP, 11 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 6 K).
Alcántara owns a 1.32 ERA after two starts at Citizens Bank Park. No active Phillies player has ever had a home run off the righty, not even Bryce Harper in 16 plate appearances, though Harper is 6-for-12 against him.
And last but not least, Sandy has been better pitching on the road in terms of earned run average (3.65 ERA away vs. 4.02 ERA career at home) while throwing a higher percentage of strikes and allowing line drives less frequently.
Don Mattingly could be announcing his No. 1 starter as soon as Friday. If it’s Alcántara, he would become the youngest pitcher to start the club’s regular season opener since José Fernández in 2014.
Whoever gets the assignment will have the challenge of breaking the Marlins’ streak of Opening Day disappointments—they have lost five games in a row and eight of their last 10.
Who should start for the Marlins on Opening Day?
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