Sandy Alcantara seems poised to work through the early struggles on his Cy Young Award follow-up season for the Miami Marlins
Perhaps a return visit to Wrigley Field, where he once delivered a memorable postseason performance, can help begin a turnaround.
Looking to rebound from another subpar outing, Alcantara will also try to help the visiting Marlins avoid a sixth straight loss and series sweep at the hands of the Chicago Cubs on Sunday
Alcantara (1-3, 5.09 ERA) dazzled in 2022, throwing six complete games while going 14-9 in 32 starts with 207 strikeouts and a 2.28 ERA. However, that success has yet to carry over to 2023, where he's yielded at least three earned runs in four of his six starts, completed six or more innings just twice and fanned more than six only once.
"I don't have to change anything," said Alcantara, who allowed three runs, six hits and three walks, while fanning five, over five innings of Tuesday's 6-0 loss to Atlanta. "I just got to keep positive, believe in myself. Keep working on everything I've got to do to get better. Get on track from last year."
The right-hander hasn't faced the Cubs since he yielded an Ian Happ homer, two other hits and overcame three walks over 6 2/3 innings of Miami's 5-1 road victory in Game 1 of the 2020 NL Wild Card series. Including the postseason, Happ is 2-for-4 versus Alcantara, who's now saddled with trying to help the Marlins end their longest slide of 2023
Since sweeping a three-game home set from the Cubs last weekend, Miami has been outscored 34-12 in five games since. Jorge Soler homered for one of his two hits Saturday, when the Marlins led 2-1 going into the bottom of the eighth. However, Chicago scored three times for a 4-2 victory
Nick Madrigal delivered a go-ahead, two-run single in the eighth for the Cubs, who have taken the first two of this set to move a game over .500 following their 1-6 road trip. With two hits in each of the last two games, Chicago's Nico Hoerner is batting .315 on the season -- and 7-for-20 (.350) versus Miami in 2023
Meanwhile, touted Cubs first base prospect Matt Mervis has recorded an RBI single in each of his first two major league games this weekend
Hayden Wesneski (2-1, 4.45) eyes a third straight solid start when he takes the ball for Chicago on Sunday. The right-hander has allowed a lone run in each of his last two outings while giving up a total of nine hits and just one walk over 11 innings. He lasted six frames during Tuesday's 4-1 loss at Washington.
"I think finding his rhythm and his delivery helps him a lot," Cubs manager David Ross said. "He's got that mentality where he wants to go get it, so once he settles and calms down, gets into the flow of the game, he's much better.
This will be Wesneski's first appearance against the Marlins and star Luis Arraez, who is batting a major-league best .430 and carrying a nine-game hitting streak. He is 9-for-17 against the Cubs this season
--Field Level Media