Alcantara tabbed for Opening Day start

July 15th, 2020

MIAMI -- established himself as a frontline starter in 2019.

On Tuesday night, the Marlins made it official that the 24-year-old right-hander will be the ace of their staff. Alcantara will be the Opening Day starter, manager Don Mattingly announced during The Line Drive show on the club's YouTube channel.

Alcantara will take the ball on July 24 against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The decision to go with Alcantara was expected. The Marlins intend to go with a five-man rotation, and Alcantara has been lined up to go on Game 1.

Earlier Tuesday, 10 days before Opening Day, Alcantara threw five innings in an intrasquad scrimmage.

Alcantara was an All-Star in 2019, when he went 6-14 with a 3.88 ERA in 197 1/3 innings over 32 starts.

Alcantara was sharp on Tuesday. He allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits with three strikeouts and a walk. Three of the five hits were doubles, including one by to lead off the scrimmage.

After the five innings were over, Alcantara faced three more batters, giving him the equivalent of six innings.

The scrimmage ended in a 2-2 tie.

Hitting Harold impressing
The Marlins may have settled on their starting right fielder. In the first two intrasquad scrimmages, played Monday and Tuesday at Marlins Park, has started in right field. He has been in the same outfield with center fielder and left fielder .

Mattingly said via a Zoom call Tuesday that Ramirez and are the two who most come to mind playing right field. Cooper played first base in each of the first two scrimmages, and he’s an option for designated hitter.

Prospects Jesús Sánchez and Monte Harrison are also in consideration, but neither has played yet in the big leagues.

“One of the guys I think has probably been the most impressive, overall, is Harold,” Mattingly said. “Harold has made some changes, and he’s swinging the bat really good.”

Ramirez went from a closed stance, with his front foot closer to home plate, to a more straight-up stance.

Ramirez appeared in 119 games in 2019, hitting .276 with 11 home runs and 50 RBIs.

“I don’t think Harold is a guy people give as much credit to,” Mattingly said.

Mattingly noted that Ramirez’s Statcast metrics are impressive. According to Statcast, he’s in the 92nd percentile in sprint speed.

Building a winning culture
It’s no secret that wins have been hard to come by for the Marlins, especially in the last two seasons, when they finished last in the National League East. In 2019, Miami went 57-105, and the organization’s last winning season was ’09.

The way the organization is moving forward is changing the culture and the mindsets of players who put on the uniform.

Catcher , a veteran who came up with the Yankees, is impressed by how the youthful Marlins go about their business.

“We have the mentality to win,” Cervelli said. “This is not about competing [for jobs] anymore. This is about win, win, win. We have to change the culture here.”

The Marlins are treating the 60-game regular season as a sprint to the playoffs.

“We’ve been working hard to change the culture,” Mattingly said. “I’ve been trying that from the beginning -- making sure that this culture is good, and guys want to be here. We’re making sure we’re playing the game right, preparing for games -- making sure that keeps evolving.

“Obviously, you’re not seeing it with wins on the scoreboard. It’s the way you’re treating guys, the way you’re preparing, the way you are bringing guys up through development. Those are all important things that are part of that culture.”