There hasn’t been much to celebrate this year in Miami, but the Marlins starting rotation has been a source of a few positive developments. Caleb Smith and Pablo López started off the season strong but faded in the second half. Zac Gallen and Jordan Yamamoto both made their major league debuts, and while Gallen was shipped out at the trade deadline, Yamamoto has shown some promise as a 23-year-old rookie. But the most exciting progress has come from Sandy Alcantara.
On the surface, Alcantara’s stat line doesn’t look that impressive. His park and league adjusted FIP sits just seven percent above league average but that’s more due to some luck in keeping the ball in the ballpark. His 18% strikeout rate is one of the worst in the majors among qualified starters despite a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. The biggest question mark attached to him as a prospect was his command of his repertoire. In his 42 major league innings prior to this year, he ran a walk rate above 15%. He’s managed to drop that down to 10.7% this year, but that’s still one of the worst walk rates in the majors.
The fourth ranked prospect in the Marlins organization and 127th overall at the start of the season, there were plenty of doubts that Alcantara could stick in a major league rotation as he developed. He’s likely going to make 30 starts this year, which has to be seen as a success for the Marlins player development group, shoddy peripherals be damned. But since the start of August, Alcantara has shown flashes of brilliance, giving Marlins fans another starting pitcher to dream on for next season.
In his seven starts since the end of July, Alcantara has posted a park and league adjusted FIP 19% better than league average. More importantly, his strikeout rate has jumped up to 22.3%, a nearly six point improvement from where it sat after the first four months of the season. The highlight of this stretch came in his last start at home against the Royals. He threw a complete game, holding Kansas City scoreless while allowing just six base runners and striking out eight. That was actually the second complete game shutout he’s thrown this year, his first coming back in May against the Mets. Read the rest of this entry »