Honestly, I am still not convinced Sandy Alcantara knows how to consistently locate his fastballs. Frankly, as a reliever, it doesn’t matter all that much. And for the indefinite future, I see the Cardinals using Alcantara as a back-end-of-the-bullpen option. As long as he’s somewhat close to the zone, he should still be able to get MLB hitters out. Especially when he is throwing (and sequencing) the 101.6 MPH fourseamer seen below, courtesy of @cardinalsgifs:
Eight-pitch strikeout of Phillip Ervin (BrooksBaseball At Bat)
Alcantara threw four fourseamers and two sinkers in his outing on Wednesday. The two pitch types averaged 100.9 MPH and 100.2 MPH, respectively. This is velocity we had not yet seen from Alcantara at the MLB level. This is velocity we were hyped up about with Sam Tuivailala that never truly materialized. Yet, even at this velocity, MLB hitters will eventually catch up to it if it’s poorly located and/or straight. Fortunately, this wasn’t at all the case on Wednesday night. While the camera angle isn’t ideal for identifying horizontal movement, focus on the mitt of Carson Kelly. Despite starting on the outer half, this pitch ran so much that by the time Kelly catches it, it’s almost behind the Ervin’s back leg.
Filthy pitch sequencing to put Ervin away
Pitch number seven was an 87.2 MPH slider with 4.3 inches of glove-side horizontal movement. Pitch number eight — the strikeout pitch GIFed above — was a 101.6 MPH fourseamer with 8.8 inches of arm-side horizontal movement. A difference of 14.4 MPH and 13.1 inches of horizontal movement is a virtually unhittable pitch sequence.
The knock on Alcantara up to this point in his very young career has been that his fastball doesn’t live up to its velocity. If he is able to sequence it like he did in this strikeout, this will no longer be an issue for him. If he is able to exhibit this magnitude of movement, even better. With these improvements in mind, look for Alcantara to be a force out of the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen for many years to come.
P.S. Being mindful of the small sample size, Alcantara’s average sinker velocity (99.73 MPH) is actually faster than his fourseamer’s (98.94 MPH).