Patience or Panic: Max Muncy, Luis Severino, Sandy Alcantara

As temperatures heat up, these guys have cooled off.


We’re on the cusp of the dog days of summer. Pennant races will start to materialize as contenders are separated from pretenders. Individual struggles and successes will be solidified.

Let’s talk about a few of the strugglers.


Max Muncy, 3B/2B/DH, Los Angeles Dodgers


Few players got off to a more explosive start to the 2023 season than Muncy. With 25 games under his belt, Muncy had rocked 11 home runs, scored 18, and drove in 22.

Then May came.

You didn’t draft Muncy to hit for average, but since the end of April, he’s batting an intolerable .142. In 35 games over that span, he’s hit seven home runs and driven in 23 runs. That’s still better than a 30 HR, 100 RBI pace but it’s worth asking how sustainable the output is with such otherwise poor hitting.

Part of Muncy’s feast-or-famine nature is how he hits the ball. His .180 BABIP is crazy low and ordinarily would point to some seriously nasty luck, but his xBABIP is only .225. What gives?

The batted ball profile here is to blame. Muncy hits the ball hard, so that’s no problem. It’s where he hits the ball that complicates matters. On the year, he’s pulling the ball at a gaudy 58.6% but doesn’t seem to be benefitting from the banning of the shift. He hits too many fly balls to capitalize on the new rules. His groundball and line drive rates are well below average; simply put, a disproportionately large percentage of his plate appearances end with a home run or a fly out.

Muncy has been battling a hamstring injury for part of June and found himself on the 10-day injured list. Whether he bounces back quickly or the injury lingers will be pivotal in determining how the rest of his season pans out.

Verdict: Patience. See how the stint on the IL serves him. Hopefully, it’s a quick get-right and he can bump the average up a touch.


Luis Severino, SP, New York Yankees


Severino started the season on the injured list with a lat strain and has yet to find his footing in 2023. Through six starts, he’s 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA and an 8.40 K/9 mark that would be his lowest since 2016.

What’s abundantly clear is that Severino is throwing too many fastballs. He’s throwing his four-seamer at a 53% clip this season, up from 48.4% and 45.9% in 2022 and 2021, respectively. Unfortunately, the rise in usage has been accompanied by a drop in effectiveness.

In 2022, Severino’s four-seamer was elite, with hitters generating a .188 average and .275 wOBA against the pitch. An xAVG of .234 and xwOBA of .321 against the pitch suggested some good fortune, but those numbers are still well better than average. 2023 has been a different story.

This season, the four-seamer has yielded a .328 AVG and .436 wOBA to opposing hitters. Both are slightly worse than the corresponding expected metrics, but there’s clearly a problem here. The pitch is generating groundballs at a 24.5% clip, down from 39.3% a year ago. This can likely be at least partially explained by 56.5% of his four-seamers being classified as high, up from 44.2% in 2022.

The rise in fastball usage has come at the expense of his changeup and slider, two effective offerings. Batters have produced just a .203 xAVG against the changeup, due in large part to a 66.7% ground ball rate. The slider has surrendered just a .218 xAVG and Severino has great command of the pitch, with a Zone% of 45.3% and Strike% of 65.1%

Verdict: Panic. Something is off with Severino and it doesn’t seem out of the question that the lat is hampering his fastball command. He won’t finish the season with a 6.30 ERA, but he’ll struggle until he goes away from the four-seamer.


Sandy Alcantara, SP, Miami Marlins


It brings me no joy to write about Alcantara in this capacity, but here we are. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner has scuffled through 14 starts this year, posting two wins and a 4.97 ERA, with a measly 19.4% K rate.

Four pitches make up Alcantara’s arsenal, a sinker, changeup, four-seam fastball, and slider. He throws them all at between a 20 and 30 percent clip, boasting an uncommonly symmetrical pitch mix.

Historically, all four of these offerings have been effective, but the sinker and changeup are presently leaving something to be desired. On the surface, the sinker has yielded positive results, to the tune of a .217 AVG and .284 wOBA against. However, an opponent xAVG of .309 and xwOBA of .364 suggest the pitch is overperforming.

The changeup’s woes have been more apparent. After inducing groundballs at an absurd 68.2% clip a year ago, that mark has dropped to a pedestrian 50.0% in 2023. Opposing hitters are making hard contact with the pitch on 31.4% of balls in play, blowing away last year’s 19.0% clip. Consequently, the pitch has a .313 AVG against.

Alcantara’s two other pitches, his four-seamer, and slider, have performed as expected to date, providing cause for optimism. His 3.87 FIP, while not Cy Young caliber, also points to some misfortune in his results. One would also expect his absurdly low 60.5% LOB rate to regress toward the mean and help generate better results.

Verdict: Patience. Alcantara seems like a good candidate to regain some form. His 3.87 FIP is just a hair above his career 3.72 mark and there’s just no way the LOB rate stays that low.



Jack Connors

Jack Connors is an avid Pittsburgh sports fan. In his free time, he enjoys playing golf and the guitar, and hanging out with his dog.

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