In 2020, Dominican righty Sandy Alcántara proved he’s one of the frontline options for the Marlins starting rotation. Despite testing positive for COVID-19 and missing several weeks because of it, he completed another solid season.
After his very respectable showing in 2019, it was clear who the Marlins’ ace was entering 2020: Alcántara. He was selected as the team’s Opening Day starter way back in spring training and still received that opportunity when the shortened season finally began. He didn’t disappoint: Sandy took the win after going 6 2⁄3 innings of three hits and one earned run, along with two walks and seven strikeouts against the Phillies. That’s how his good season kicked off.
Unfortunately, he was one of the victims of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Fish environment. The NL All-Star lost more than a month of action due to his required self-quarantine and the process of rebuilding his arm strength to handle a starter’s workload. After beating Philadelphia, he didn’t throw a pitch in a game until August 30, when he had his worst outing of the season: 4 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 5 ER, 2 HR vs. the Rays.
But after that, Alcántara cruised through September. In the last month of the regular season, he fired 31 1⁄3 frames and allowed 26 hits plus only eight earned runs, good for a 2.30 ERA. He struck out 30 hitters and Miami won four of his five starts.
As it happened on Opening Day, Sandy was the chosen one to begin the National League Wild Card Series against the Cubs and he shone again. He worked 6 2⁄3 episodes of three-hit, one-run ball at Wrigley Field. Unfortunately, he couldn’t repeat that kind of performance when the Marlins faced the Braves in the Divisional Series. That game, on October 6, was the last one for Alcántara in 2020, as he surrendered eight hits and five runs across six innings. That marked the beginning of the end for the Marlins.
But you need to remember that he was GOOD overall.
- His four-seam fastball velocity kept going up. In 2018, it averaged 95.5 MPH and went up to 95.6 MPH last year. But this time it was at 96.8 MPH.
- Alcántara lives on his four-seamer and sinker. 59.7 percent of his deliveries were one or another and they were good for a .208 opponent batting average (20-for-96), with five doubles, no home runs, and 19 strikeouts.
- I love three statistics that show his steady development:
High Points: Quality start in the Opening Day win at Philadelphia on July 24; last start of the regular season, against the Yankees, on September 25; solid performance vs. the Cubs to begin the NLWC on September 30.
The fact that Sandy Alcántara hasn’t stopped improving really has me excited. I find that as an encouraging point for the Marlins, considering that they already have rookie phenom Sixto Sánchez, a much better Pablo López, and surprising Elieser Hernández providing rotation depth going forward.
Alcántara will still be leading this staff for the Marlins’ 2021 season opener—he has the credentials to do so. Sandy gives you what you need from an ace. Nearly 86 percent of his outings were quality starts. He didn’t surrender more than two earned runs in 71.4 percent of his appearances. Already with 45 career starts and 281 2⁄3 innings under his belt, it’ll be interesting to see him next year in a 162-game season as the Marlins’ ace, especially after showing such an improvement in 2019.
Thinking of how the 25-year-old can continue progressing from here, lowering his walks comes to mind. His 3.21 BB/9 this season was better than league average, but still not what’s expected of a true number one. At the same time, that will help him have better FIP and WHIP numbers. It’s all connected.
Regardless, the Marlins have to be proud of how Alcántara has performed for them thus far.
Will Sandy Alcántara be a National League All-Star in 2021?
This poll is closed