The top priority for the Philadelphia Phillies heading into the spring training was to bolster a bullpen that posted the worst ERA since 1930.
Hector Neris and JoJo Romero are the only relievers on the depth chart that were on the roster last season. Among the relievers added this offseason include Archie Bradley, Tony Watson, Brandon Kintzler, Sam Coonrod, and Jose Alvarado.
We’ll take a look at what to expect from the flame-throwing Alvarado, specifically, in 2021.
Predicting how Jose Alvarado will fare in his first season with the Phillies
Alvardo has a devasting four-seam fastball from the left side that can reach triple-digits on the radar gun. The Phillies are excited at the possibilities from the 25-year-old, who pitched his first four seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays. Despite a 2-15 career record, Alvarado has tremendous upside. What sticks out the most is his 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings and 0.4 home runs allowed per nine innings over his career.
In 35 games as a 22-year-old in 2017, Alvarado posted a 3.46 ERA with only a single home run allowed in 29 2/3 innings. In his only full season of work the following season, Alvarado was extremely impressive. He had a slim 2.39 ERA, struck out 80, and gave up only 42 hits and one home run in 64 innings.
Alvarado struggled a bit over his last 44 games in 2019 and 2020, mainly due to control issues — walking 33 in 39 innings. A big positive was a strikeout total of 52, for an average of around 12 per nine innings.
Now in red pinstripes, Alvarado can be a late-inning reliever who will be extremely tough against left-handed hitters. Another plus is his ability to keep the ball in the yard, essential for effective pitching at Citizens Bank Park.
If Alvarado has better command of his pitches, he can approach the numbers he put up in 2017. While it can’t be expected for him to repeat that performance, numbers around his career mark would definitely help solidify the back end of the bullpen. Look for an ERA around 3.50 with 11 to 12 strikeouts and four walks per nine innings.