The Marlins will begin the upcoming Wild Card Series with great pitching momentum, at least good enough to think they have a chance to beat the Chicago Cubs.
For example, two of their starters were lights out in the final 14 games of the season. The bullpen, led by closer Brandon Kintzler, also had great performances in the aforementioned stretch. The following list has us excited and expecting big things from the Fish in the three-game series.
Alcántara was awesome for the Marlins this season, and that didn’t change that over his final three starts. He faced the tough lineups of the Red Sox, Nationals, and Yankees; nonetheless, he recorded three quality starts.
In those three outings, the Dominican righty worked 19.1 innings, allowing 16 hits and only four earned runs, walking six and striking out 18. That was good for a 1.86 ERA.
One thing the Cubs should know is that despite having three 10-homer hitters, Alcántara only gave up ONE across 31 1⁄3 frames in September. The 25-year-old doesn’t allow many fly balls (16.2 FB%) and when he does, it’s usually soft contact. That’s why opponents hit for a .160 average when they put the ball in the air (4-for-25).
López won each of his final three starts with three good appearances against the Phillies, the Nats, and the Braves, whom he blanked through five last Thursday. Over his last 17.1 innings, his rivals only registered EIGHT hits and three runs (1.56 ERA). In fact, Pablo didn’t allow more than three hits in any of those three outings.
What I like about the young Venezuelan is he mixes pitches and barely allows hard contact. His exit velocity this season is 85.7 MPH (2.6 MPH below the MLB average). And along with this, he’s striking out more guys than ever: 18.6 K% in 2018, 20.3 K% in 2019, 24.6 K% this year.
All of this can cause trouble for a Chicago team whose offense is one of the worst in the Major Leagues. (Their batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage are all under league average).
Somehow, Kintzler has gotten good results. Despite having a 5.00 FIP and a 1.32 WHIP, he’s been great for the bullpen in the closer’s role, especially in the final two weeks of the regular season.
Since September 14, he’s collected three saves and fired seven scoreless frames despite giving up five hits (four singles) and five walks, to go with six punchouts. And even better: after a rocky start, opponents cashed in only twice against the veteran since August 21 (a 1.13 ERA over 16 outings).
It’ll be interesting to see him pitch against his former team. Before joining the Marlins, he was part of the Cubs for the last part of 2018 and for the entire 2019 season, so he knows what throwing in Wrigley Field is like.
Others who deserve to be mentioned
- James Hoyt: 11 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 8 BB, 14 K, 0.00 ERA, .132 Opp AVG in 19 appearances since August 15.
- Yimi García: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K, 0.00 ERA, .158 Opp AVG in six appearances since September 13.
- Richard Bleier: 9.0 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 1.00 ERA, .219 Opp AVG in 11 appearances in September.