Ace Sandy Alcántara has been one of the few bright spots for the Marlins in their forgettable 2021 season. He’s been outstanding and durable as the front man of their starting rotation throughout the whole campaign. In his next start, he will have the chance to close the regular season in fashion with yet another notable achievement.
Alcántara—whose final outing will come against the Phillies on Friday at LoanDepot Park—surpassed the 200-inning threshold on Saturday for the first time in his career. He delivered another quality start but took the loss for the 14th time in 2021.
His next challenge is to get to 200 strikeouts. The 26-year-old righty finished his most recent start with 195 K’s, which is already far and away a career-high total. It’s absolutely realistic to think he can get five more.
Alcántara has recorded at least five punchouts in 10 of his last 12 outings. This season, he is averaging nearly seven per game at home (compared to 5.35 on the road). Also, he has reached that magic number in six of his nine career matchups with the Phils.
If he does it again, Sandy will become just the fifth Marlins pitcher with a season of 200+ innings and 200+ strikeouts and the first to do it since 2002. He’s attempting to join a group formed by Al Leiter (1996), Kevin Brown (1997), Ryan Dempster (2000), and A.J. Burnett (2002). Of the four, Brown threw the most innings (237.1 IP) and Dempster owned the most strikeouts (209).
Alcántara continues to build up a nice career with the Marlins, despite having a low profile most of the time. He is combining workload with run prevention at an elite level as one of only three pitchers to have at least 200 frames and an ERA below 3.10 this year; the others are the Phillies’ Zack Wheeler and Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, yet Alcántara doesn’t get talked about nearly as much as them.
The Marlins definitely need to embrace Sandy’s controllable years (2022-2024), or ideally extend him beyond that. He is someone you build a team around, arguably the team’s most important overall player. And he is setting the ultimate example for his peers by continuing to get better.