Sandy Alcantara Is The Best Pitcher In Baseball Right Now
I tweeted last night that Sandy Alcantara almost feels like he's stuck out of time. Don't get me wrong, his 100 mph fastball and 94 MPH changeup would play in any other era, but bizarrely, Sandy Alcantara doesn't have some high strikeout rate. He's capable of missing bats. We saw him have a 14-strikeout game earlier in the season but as a whole, what makes Alcantara so special is that he's eating innings at a rate that we haven't seen in a while. He's currently on pace to pitch over 230 innings this year. If that holds, that would be the most by a National League pitcher since Clayton Kershaw in 2015, which feels like decades ago considering the way pitchers are managed nowadays. Last night in a come-from-behind win against the St. Louis Cardinals, Alcantara threw 117 pitches in a complete game. That's the most any pitcher has thrown in a complete game this season. And while it could've easily blown up in their faces, I give Don Mattingly a lot of credit for sticking with his ace. We sadly don't see that a whole lot anymore.
We still have a long ways to go in 2022. Last year, it seemed inevitable that Jacob deGrom would eventually run away with the National League Cy Young, and we know what happened there. But right now, the separation between Sandy Alcantara and the second-best pitcher in the National League is about as wide as it gets. Alcantara, who had a career-best season last year, has already surpassed his career-high in WAR from a season ago. He currently leads the National League in ERA, games started, complete games, innings pitched, batters faced, ERA+, hits per nine innings, and WAR. Over his last ten starts, he's averaging nearly eight innings a start. By comparison, Corbin Burns, last year's NL Cy Young winner, who's absolutely filthy, averaged 5.96 innings a start.
Despite having some young talent on their roster, it's too bad that the Marlins can't seem to find their footing in what is admittedly a tough NL East. What Alcantara is doing right now shares some parallels to Jacob deGrom's marvelous 2018 season. While Alcantara is not nearly as good as the deGrom (I mean, who is?) At full health, he is far and away the crowned jewel of a subpar baseball team, and right now, he's the best pitcher the sport has to offer.