Marlins’ Sandy Alcantara hits 228.2 majors-best innings thrown at NL Cy Young Award

It wasn’t about whether Sandy Alcantara would win the Cy Young Award, just one to find out if he would become the National League’s first unanimous winner since Clayton Kershaw in 2014.

Indeed, the Miami Marlins‘ The 27-year-old right-hander swept all 30 first-place votes to beat brave left-handed Max fried and Dodgers left-handed Julio Urias to become the first Cy Young winner in Marlins history.

In that era of five-inning starters, Alcantara stood out like a unicorn: he pitched 228⅔ innings, 23⅔ more than any other pitcher in the majors, and the most innings since. David Price threw 230 in 2016. He threw six full games – more than any other crew. He pitched at least eight innings in 14 of his 32 starts, the most such games since 2014. His 8.0 WAR easily surpassed Aaron Nola’s 6.0 as the best in the NL and ranked as the best in Marlins history, ahead of Kevin Brown’s 7.9 in 1996. .

“I’m very happy with the type of season I’ve been able to have this season,” Alcantara said in a video released when he won the Players Choice Award as the NL’s outstanding pitcher. “It’s like I always said to the media: my mentality is to be a lion on the mound, to finish all my starts.”

Here’s another way to look at Alcantara’s price: He had 16 starts over seven innings when you add his two 7⅔ inning outings. Fried and Urias have combined for just two outings over seven innings. However, it wasn’t just his ability to dive deep into matches that made Alcantara the winner over Cy Young. His 2.28 ERA ranked second in the NL behind Urias’ 2.16, and he held batters to a .212 average with some of the most electrifying things in the majors.

“He’s throwing over 100 mph and he’s got movement on that fastball,” Cardinals first baseman said Paul Goldschmidt said.

Indeed, Alcantara has averaged just under 98 mph with his fastball (he throws both a four seam and a sinker), but his game plan is a bit different than many modern pitchers. He induces a lot of soft contacts rather than just racking up strikeouts – and thus avoids the high counts that result from a lot of deep counts. As a result, he led all starters averaging just 14.2 pitches per inning, which allowed him to go deeper in games. He still had 207 strikeouts, including a season-high 14, in an eight-inning win over the Braves on May 28.

Originally signed by the Cardinals out of the Dominican Republic, the Marlins acquired Alcantara after the 2017 season in a trade that sent Marcell Ozuna in Saint Louis. Alcantara made the All-Star team in 2019, his first full season in the majors, when he finished with a 3.88 ERA, then had a big break in 2021, when he went 9 -15 with a 3.19 ERA in 205 innings.

An improved change has taken him to another level this season, as batters hit just .145 against him with no homers in 248 at-bats. That’s a power change that averaged 91.8 mph – yes, a 92 mph change. According to Statcast stats, his change saved 25 runs, the game’s most valuable change of 2022.

Perhaps the highlight of Alcantara’s season wasn’t one of his seven scoreless outings, but a 4-3 win over the Cardinals on June 29. Leading 4-3 with runners at first and second and one out at ninth and Alcantara at 115 pitches, Mattingly came out to seemingly put him out of play. Alcantara convinced himself to stay and two pitches later prompted a double play for end it.

“When he came to me, I said, ‘I get it. I got it. I think he has too much faith in me to finish the game,” Alcantara said after the win. “I don’t have to worry when I have men on base. I know I can throw a strike and get a double play.”

“He said he had it and he did,” Mattingly said. “I wasn’t going to promise him two hitters but I gave him this one. He’s pretty special.”

Special enough that the extension the Marlins signed him last November to 2027 now feels like a bargain. With the Marlins now having a Cy Young winner, the only franchises that don’t have one are the Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies.

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