MLBits: Alcántara Dealing for the Fish, MLB Making Their Own Sticky Stuff, Pep Talks from Griffey Jr., More

Not many baseball fans outside the Miami area (and maybe not even many within) pay attention to the Marlins, but Sandy Alcántara is giving us a reason to tune into the Marlins at least every five days.

Sandy Alcántara Has Been Darn Good

Sandy Alcántara has been pretty darn good of late for the Miami Marlins, and last night was no exception: The 26-year-old right-hander threw nine scoreless innings for the Marlins against the Washington Nationals.

Alcántara struck out six and allowed six hits while running his scoreless streak to 18 innings and lowering his ERA to 1.61 on the season. The Marlins needed extra innings to get the job done, so Alcántara ended up with a no-decision despite his strong efforts.

Check out this 100 mph sinker from Alcántara last night:

Sarah Langs put together some great numbers to highlight the recent run of dominance for Alcántara over his last six starts:

As of today, Alcántara’s 1.61 ERA and 2.1 fWAR rank third in MLB, and his 53.8 percent ground ball rate ranks fifth in baseball. Not too shabby. Alcántara has a whopping five starts with eight or more innings pitched this season. Logan Webb, Nestor Cortes, Justin Verlander, and Jameson Taillon are next on that list, with two such starts a piece.

MLB Working to Create Its Own “Sticky Stuff?”

We’ve known for some time now that MLB is working to devise a compromise to the sticky stuff dilemma, and the solution looks like it will be making their own version of the sticky stuff. One that helps increase the tackiness of the ball, helping with the grip, while not giving players an unfair boost to their spin rates.

“We have a ball that has served the sport well for decades, and we have taken a number of steps to make the baseball the most consistent it has ever been,” said Morgan Sword, EVP of baseball operations at MLB in a statement. “While we continue to explore solutions to add tackiness without materially increasing spin rates, it’s a very hard thing to get right, and we have set a very high bar for success.”

More on the MLB’s foray into making their own sticky stuff from Evan Drellich of The Athletic: 

What Would You Do If Ken Griffey Jr. Called Your Shot?

Levi Weaver of The Athletic spoke with the Rangers’ Sam Huff. The latter received some encouraging words from the quite possibly the most incredible source ever, Ken Griffey Jr. The conversation came back in 2019 when Huff was still in the minors and taking part in the Futures Game in Cleveland.

Huff got a pre-game encouragement from the Hall of Famer, who told him he had “special power.” If that wasn’t cool enough, when Huff was called on to pinch-hit in the seventh inning, Griffey, Jim Thome, and Sean Casey approached Huff and called his shot … a home run.

“Sean Casey, Jim Thome, and Ken Griffey all come up and call the shot,” Huff remembers. “They’re like, ‘You’re gonna do something big here, man. You’re gonna hit a bomb.’”

No pressure, right? Huff drilled a game-tying two-run bomb in the left field seats at Progressive Field. You can’t make this kind of stuff up.

“That was history; that’s what defined my career,” Huff said. “Kind of got me to where I’m at. But it was a piece of how I did it. And so still, to this day, I love it. It was cool.”

Check out the entire story from Eli Weaver:

Angels Skid Cost Maddon His Job, But He Wasn’t Alone in Culpability

Shohei Ohtani hit just .179/.333/.385 in 48 PA over Maddon’s last 12 games, Mike Trout was mired in a career-worst slump, and the pitching staff was downright terrible. Still, Joe Maddon fell on the sword as the Angels losing streak climbed to 12 games earlier this week. The Angels are 0-2 since Phil Nevin took over for Maddon, and Maddon was blindsided by the move and still has the itch to manage; even Nickelback couldn’t save the Halos last night.

Jay Jaffe dives into the Angels’ losing streak that cost Joe Maddon his job in his latest column at FanGraphs:

Odds and Ends …

•   Bryce Harper drilled his 14th home run of the season on Wednesday night as the Phillies drubbed the Brewers en route to their sixth straight win to open the month of June and their fifth straight since Rob Thomson took over for Joe Girardi. According to the Phillies communications department, Thomson is the first Phillies manager to win his first five games since 1915, when Pat Moran won his first eight. Thomson is also the first MLB manager to win his first five games as manager since Jim Leyland for the Detroit Tigers in 2006.

•   I’m sure by now you’ve put together that I’m a big fan of Alek Thomas, so it’ll be no surprise that I was happy to see this highway robbery on Reds slugger Joey Votto’s near homer yesterday. The Diamondbacks went on to beat the Reds 7-0.

•   The ‘Odds and Ends’ section has a little bit of everything going on today. We had a huge home run, a home run robbery, and now we’ve got a walk-off! Jesús Aguilar helped the Marlins down the Nats 2-1 with a walk-off knock in Miami’s bottom of the 10th inning, and it wasn’t a typical base hit. Aguilar’s hot-shot grounder was hit directly into the National’s shift but ricocheted off the second base bag and allowed Williams Astudillo to score from second!

•   The wild doesn’t stop there … Salvador Perez had a triple on Wednesday afternoon, his first three-bagger since 2017!

•   Hope you’re keeping up with the wildness thus far because we’re not done just yet. Aaron Hicks recorded an outfield assist with a ROCKET of a throw from left field, and it really wasn’t even a close play at the plate. As Sarah Langs (a must-follow for baseball stat-heads) points out, Hicks’ dart clocked in at 97 mph, the fastest throw by Hicks since July 2019 and the second-fastest outfield assist by a Yankees outfielder this season.

•   All right, I’ve saved the best for last … 39-year-old catcher Yadier Molina logged his first career strikeout in his 2,181st MLB game. Albert Pujols’ reaction to the 76 mph, who the heck knows, was priceless!

•   MLB Mock Draft SZN is my version of Hot Gurrrlll Summer:

written by

Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

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