Sandy Alcántara breaks all the schemes of the current pitcher

Sandy Alcantara (7-2, 1.72 ERA) has become a workhorse with a modern arsenal and a retro approach. Through the first two months of the season, no pitcher in baseball has lasted longer in games with better results than Alcantara. At 26, he has become the ace of the Miami Marlins as he builds a case to start the All-Star Game next month in Los Angeles.

After an eight-inning, two-run gem at Citi Field on Sunday, Alcantara completed the seventh inning for the eighth straight start and improved his position atop the MLB standings. He has recorded 99.1 innings in 2022, no other pitcher has reached 90. Those Alcantara tickets are of high quality. He led all pitchers in wins above replacement, according to Baseball-Reference. Just the Dodgers pitcher, Tony Gonsolin (1.42 ERA) and Padres starter, Joe Musgrove (1.59), had registered better ERAs. Alcantara had pitched 20.1 more innings than Musgrove and 36 more than Gonsolin.

In an era when starting pitchers often go out after five innings, at a time when teams try to maximize arm efficiency by limiting repeated exposure, Alcantara recalls a simpler time. He is one of those guys who wants to finish what he started. In his 14 starts this season, he spent the third round in the lineup.

He has held hitters to a .567 OPS at first glance. In his third time, he only gets better, with a .526 OPS against him. “His ability to get stronger as the game progresses is quite remarkable.” receiver Jacob Stallings said.

He’s in eighth and he’s hitting 100 mph and it looks like he’s playing catch. Everything seems easy for him. His path from the street games of Azua to the majors was not easy. Alcantara grew up with 10 brothers and sisters. When he was 11 years old, his parents sent him to live with one of his sisters in the capital of Santo Domingo, about two hours from home, so that he could study while playing baseball. The Cardinals signed him at age 16. To round out his 145-pound frame, he hit the weights while gorging himself on a diet of mangú, plantains, and rice.

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Alcántara debuted with the Cardinals in 2017. He was just 21 years old. That winter, St. Louis offered him a package for the Marlins outfielder, Marcell Ozuna. The trade became a reward for Miami. The deal also included Cardinals pitching prospect Zac Gallenwho would later be traded to Arizona for infielder Jazz Chisholm Jr.

In 2022, the average headline lasts just over five. Alcantara has averaged seven innings per start. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he prioritizes preservation early in the games.

“If you start the game wearing your full veil, maybe you get tired in the third inning, maybe the fifth,” Alcantara said. “But I’m not like that. I like to start the game nice and easy, relax a bit. After the fifth inning, I have to use all my powers.”

You can take this approach because your arsenal is explosive and expansive. His slider often registers in the low 90s. His change is even firmer. The average launch speed has been 91.8 mph. Despite these gifts, rival evaluators have pegged him as the No. 2 starter, rather than a true ace, because he lacks a devastatingly slow pitch to slam and miss. Alcantara struck out 201 batters in 205 1/3 innings last season. Brewers starter Corbin Burnes, an NL Cy Young Award winner, fanned 234 in 167 frames. Instead of chasing strikeouts, Alcantara looks for soft contact.

Alcantara is striking out opponents at the same rate this year. But he has made subtle adjustments to disarm hitters. Under the tutelage of pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr., he increased his use of his four-seam fastball and reduced his sinker.

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