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2022 Marlins Season Preview: Sandy Alcantara

Entering the first year of a 5-YR/$56M extension, Alcantara is firmly entrenched as the staff ace.

Sandy Alcantara #22 of the Miami Marlins pitches during a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Say what you want about the post-lockout blues that have enveloped the Marlins in the week-or-so since a new CBA was agreed upon, the Marlins already scored a big victory this offseason. They locked up staff ace Sandy Alcantara for the next 5 years on a $56 million contract extension. As if that wasn’t efficient enough, the deal includes a club option that could keep in Miami through 2027.

Traditionalists may question extending a pitcher who finished with a 9-15 record the previous season. Well, Alcantara’s record isn’t indicative of his true performance. Even accounting for the comfort of LoanDepot Park, he posted a 131 ERA+ (where 100 represented the league average). Alcantara was also one of 17 MLB pitchers to strike out 200 hitters.

Alcantara is one of the sport’s few remaining traditional workhorses. He was one of 4 pitchers to cross the 200-inning threshold last season, averaging 6.2 innings per start. Nobody had more starts of at least 8 innings—St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright tied him for the MLB lead in that department (7 each). His 4.1 pitcher WAR ranked 21st among big league pitchers.

Alcantara had varying degrees of success dating back to his first call-up with the Marlins in 2018, but 2021 presented even further growth. The right-hander set career-highs in strikeouts (201), FIP (3.42), WHIP (1.075), BB/9 (2.2), and SO/BB (4.02).

Other than a big-time sinking fastball that routinely touches triple digits (98th percentile in FB velocity), Alcantara’s rising strikeout numbers are due in part to the increased usage of his changeup. The 2021 season saw him lean on his offspeed weapon a career-high 23.3-percent of the time. By FanGraphs pitch values, Alcantara’s changeup was the 16th-most valuable in baseball.

Most of that production was ultimately wasted. Of 119 qualified starting pitchers in 2021, Alcantara ranked 118th in run support per game, with the Marlins averaging just 3.1 runs on days when he took the mound. He thus far has a lower career winning percentage with the Marlins than the likes of José Ureña and Tom Koehler despite being considerably better in a vacuum.

What’s next?

With all of this in mind, what can we expect from Alcantara in 2022? Will he get more help from his Marlins teammates or is this a poor man’s Jacob deGrom situation?

The outside additions of Joey Wendle (110 OPS+) and Avisaíl García (29 HR) as well as the hopes of full, healthy seasons from Brian Anderson and Garrett Cooper, should reflect better on Alcantara’s win-loss record. Steamer projects 13 wins and 4 fWAR for him in 2022, the former of which would be a new personal best.

Is it possible for the quality of Alcantara’s stuff to tick up even more at age 26? If so, he could ascend into the upper echelon of pitchers in the sport. We will get our first look at Miami’s rotation leader in action when he starts tonight’s spring training opener against the Nationals.

Poll

Over/Under 10.5 wins for Sandy Alcantara in 2022?

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  • 79%
    Over
    (19 votes)
  • 20%
    Under
    (5 votes)
24 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Over/Under 200.5 strikeouts for Sandy Alcantara in 2022?

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  • 70%
    Over
    (12 votes)
  • 29%
    Under
    (5 votes)
17 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Over/Under 200.5 innings pitched for Sandy Alcantara in 2022?

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  • 61%
    Over
    (11 votes)
  • 38%
    Under
    (7 votes)
18 votes total Vote Now