Major League Baseball’s decision to cancel 2022 regular season games is dispiriting on so many levels. While Fish Stripes promises to continue producing fun Marlins content for as long as this work stoppage persists, it’s important to unpack all the negative consequences of shortening this upcoming season.
Take Sandy Alcantara, for example. He is coming off his best season yet, achieving his oft-stated goal of pitching 200 innings while fine-tuning his approach to be more dominant. The Marlins rewarded him with a $56 million contract extension that keeps him under club control through 2027.
Ricky Nolasco’s combination of durability and longevity from 2006-2013 vaulted him to the top spot on numerous Marlins career pitching leaderboards. All those marks—such as 1,225 2⁄3 innings pitched, 1,001 strikeouts and 81 wins—are attainable for Alcantara if he remains a starting pitcher and doesn’t get traded over the course of his deal. Even under that rosy premise, however, we need to consider the possibility of him suffering a significant arm injury at some point. That would give him less margin for error.
For reasons entirely outside his control, Alcantara’s chances of repeating as a 200-inning workhorse in 2022 are bleak. Removing one week from the regular season schedule seemingly caps him at a maximum of 32 starts; if the owners punt all of April, that number drops into the 20s, meaning he’d need to average seven-plus innings per outing (which nobody does anymore).
Whenever a date is ultimately set for Opening Day, it will be preceded by a rushed spring training (think three or four weeks instead of six). Starting pitchers won’t have a sufficient runway to build up their stamina. Their teams are going to keep them on relatively short leashes in their first few appearances.
On the position player side, there’s Miguel Rojas. He has steadily ascended the all-time Marlins ranks in several counting stats, most notably games played. He currently sits in ninth place at 730 games, 398 behind Luis Castillo (1,128). Rojas could surpass Castillo by 2024 if his next three seasons are similar to his last three full-length campaigns—he totaled 417 appearances in 2018, 2019 and 2021. But with each additional canceled series, that projection becomes more unlikely.
For as much as we value Rojas right now, he will be 36 years old in 2025. He’ll have the required 10-plus years of service time to qualify for the MLBPA’s biggest pension. If the Marlins’ games played record still eludes the captain at that point, is he going to grind through spring training—possibly on a minor league deal—just in the hopes of squeezing onto the roster as a utility guy? His window to capture distinctions like this could be very narrow if he experiences the typical aging curve.
With no work stoppages or alterations to the length of the MLB schedule, the 5,000th regular season game in Marlins history would have been held in September 2024. There must be at least 150 contests held this year (and the standard 162 in each of the next two) to keep the franchise on that trajectory.