5 Phillies most interesting to follow this spring training
By Matt Rappa
Jose Alvarado is the biggest wild card in the 2021 Phillies bullpen.
When healthy and feeling good, left-handed reliever Jose Alvarado has the potential to be one of the best relievers in the game.
The Venezuela native seems like the biggest “wild card” for the Phillies this season, as just a few years ago, he was outstanding in the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen. Appearing in 70 games during the 2018 season, Alvarado posted a 2.39 ERA, 1.109 WHIP, and 80-29 strikeouts-to-walks ratio spanning just 64 innings.
That year, he also finished 17 games and recorded eight saves in 12 opportunities. Through 10 1/3 innings pitched in the ninth inning, Alvarado faced 46 batters and allowed only seven singles, two doubles, and six walks, while yielding no runs and striking out 11 batters. In the eighth inning, he still recorded an impressive 2.45 ERA against 97 batters faced.
Alvarado has pitched four seasons in the majors overall. During his first two in 2017-18, he combined for a 2.79 ERA in 105 appearances. Across 2019-20, however, he recorded a 5.08 ERA in 44 outings.
Alvarado has battled injuries in recent seasons and saw just nine appearances this past season, allowing seven runs (six earned) in nine innings. The Phillies hope he will be able to return to more of his early-career form under pitching coach Caleb Cotham.
In a recent Pine Tar for Breakfast Podcast, Phillies general manager Sam Fuld discussed Alvarado’s “real” upside. “It’s just a special arm and a special sort of canvas to work with,” he said. “He’s already proven that he can do it at a really high level. He had a little adversity in the last couple of years, but we feel like we got a pretty good weapon on board. We’re excited to see him.”