It hasn’t been the easiest of first halves for reigning National League Cy Young Award winning pitcher Sandy Alcántara. He’s currently posting a 90 ERA+ and has already given up almost the same amount of runs as he did last year in 228 innings pitched, despite having thrown just 102 to date.
Here’s the funny part: even though their ace has been struggling, the Miami Marlins are currently 10+ games over .500 and hold a Wild Card spot as we enter the beginning of the second half of the season. So how have they turned a struggling ace into a winning formula? They brought up a young clone of Sandy. Meet Eury Pérez, the baby goat.Embed from Getty Images
Pérez, Miami’s 2019 free agent signing, was called up from Double-A where he spent two seasons. In 23 games, he posted 106 innings, a 3.57 ERA and 12.6 SO/9 and is currently making headlines in the majors for all the right reasons. There, he’s pitched 47 innings and is posting a 1.34 ERA. In his last six starts, he’s only given up one run. Sounds a bit like 2022 Sandy Alcantara, right? Oh, and he’s only 20 years old.
There’s a reason why this might sound familiar. From the moment the Marlins acquired Pérez, he’s been rumoured to have been taken under the wing of his former Cy Young Award winning teammate. I would imagine that the rookie has been taking every piece of advice possible, given that he and Alcántara seem to have the same pitching motion. They could, perhaps, be clones. Who knows.
When the young Dominican was called up in early May, Alcántara picked him up from the airport, by himself. We’re not talking any old Marlins staffer here; not a taxi or limousine, but the Marlins ace, driving out to the airport to collect his new teammate on an off day. For me, that speaks volumes.
In recent years, the Marlins have had their fair share of hits when it comes to pitching. Ever since the passing of José Fernández, the organisation has been waiting for its next great ace. Sixto Sánchez had flashes, but injuries always seem to stop him from developing into anything other than a raw diamond. Pablo López was developed into a trade piece that has now turned into a star in the form of Luis Arraez. Trevor Rogers almost had a rookie of the year season in 2021, but unfortunately also for him, injuries have been hampering his development of late. Braxton Garrett has blown everybody’s mind this season. Sandy’s Cy Young season last year was the crown to the work that Mel Stottlemyre Jr. has done for this organisation through pitching development, now they need to make it right with Eury.
And that largely comes down to how they handle his workload this season. The kid is playing in his first season in the majors and they don’t want to burn his hand. As the Marlins are one of the surprise packages of the season so far, it would be fun to see Eury pitch later in the year if they are are still seriously pushing for a postseason spot by then. Johnny Cueto is making a comeback to the roster even though his rehab starts in the minors have been catastrophic to say the least. We just need to pray that his hips don’t lie and that the Marlins can stay in the hunt.
I miss José Fernández. He would have now been in his age 31 season. I wasn’t following the Marlins when he was coming up the ranks and made his debut for the Fish. I only saw a couple of his starts as I was figuring out the rules of baseball back in 2016. I have, however, read so many stories about him from fellow Marlins fans and watched replays of many of his games since. Everybody says the same when they’re asked about him: he was magical.
I want Eury Pérez to be my José Fernández. He is magical, just like Jose.
Stay safe and go Fish!
Tomi Korkeamäki is the Miami Marlins writer for Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @tkorkeamaki
Photo credit for lead image: Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images