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Marlins Move To Protect Star Pitcher Sandy Alcantara By Shutting Him Down For Season

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at January 1, 1970

No matter what happens in the still-contested National League East title chase, Sandy Alcantara won’t be involved.

The star pitcher of the Miami Marlins had been scheduled to pitch at home against the Atlanta Braves on Oct. 5, the last day of the regular season, but the team has decided not to use the Cy Young Award contender.

With three games left for both the Braves and New York Mets starting Monday, the race remains too close to call. It is the only one of the six divisional races that remains undecided.

Although Alcantara beat the Braves twice in six days of May, the Marlins are looking toward their future, since the 27-year-old right-hander is their biggest attraction.

There is precedent for protecting the future of a young pitcher. The Washington Nationals, for example, exited the postseason early after they sidelined Stephen Strasburg in 2018.

An All-Star for the second time in 2022, Alcantara leads the National League in starts (32), innings pitched (228 2/3), and complete games (6). He sports 14-9 record with 207 strikeouts, 0.980 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched), and brilliant 8.1 WAR (wins against replacement).

He has not worked as often in any of his previous seven seasons, with his previous high 205 1/3 innings last year.

The decision to shut down Alcantara could prove controversial if the Braves-Mets title chase remains undecided until Wednesday.

“We’ve gotta take care of Sandy first,” outgoing Miami manager Don Mattingly told reporters. “The last day is not our responsibility. If it gets to that point, there’s been 161 games to decide this thing. We gotta do the best thing for Sandy.

“It just feels like there’s no reason to have him continue with the innings that he’s thrown this year.”

Mattingly, the only manager Alcantara has had in Miami, announced last week that he will not return next year by mutual agreement with ownership.

Alcantara pitched Friday and would have worked next Wednesday with his usual four days of rest. He is completing the first season of a five-year, $56 million contract extension signed last November and cannot become a free agent before 2027. The pact, which includes a one-year club option, was the largest ever given by the current Marlins ownership group.

The 6-5, 200-pound Dominican, one of 11 children, turned pro when the St. Louis Cardinals signed him as an undrafted amateur free agent. He pitched briefly for St. Louis before he was one of four young players sent to the Marlins for veteran outfielder Marcell Ozuna on Dec. 14, 2017.

Even after his spectacular showing in 2022, Alcantara has a losing record – primarily because the Marlins have finished at or near the bottom of the NL East in all but one of his seasons with the team. His sparkling career earned run average of 3.10 indicates the quality of his performance.

A workhorse in an era of analytics, pitch counts, and occasional six-man rotations, Alcantara finishes the year with the second-best ERA in the NL, trailing only Los Angeles Dodgers starter Julio Urias.

If he wins the National League’s Cy Young, as expected, he would be the first Miami pitcher to win the coveted trophy. Voting results will be announced in November.

His competition should include Kyle Wright, who leads the league with 21 wins; Atlanta teammate Max Fried; Mets closer Edwin Diaz; and Dodgers aces Urias and Tony Gonsolin. None of them has won the honor previously.


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