The Phillies have relied on José Alvarado to help anchor their 2022 bullpen.
The Philadelphia Phillies are heading to the NLCS for the first time since 2010. The club has relied on so many players to step up and get to this point — among them being starting pitchers Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suárez, and Bailey Falter.
The offense also has seen great seasons from players like J.T. Realmuto and Kyle Schwarber. Realmuto was just the second catcher in Major League history to have 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a season. Schwarber, meanwhile, led the National League in home runs. The offense also received contributions from Alec Bohm — who improved drastically since last season — Bryson Stott, and Brandon Marsh, who was acquired at the trade deadline from the Los Angeles Angels.
This season’s most impactful Phillies improvement has been the bullpen. In 2021, the Phillies had the fifth-worst ERA in baseball. President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski made moves to improve this area by signing and trading for relievers — such as David Robertson at the deadline. One of the most important pieces of the Phillies bullpen has been left-hander José Alvarado — who the team acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in December 2020.
Alvarado struggled to start the season and was sent down to Triple-A at the end of May after posting an 11.37 ERA that month. He was brought back up in June, and since then has been one of the most reliable relievers in baseball. In 38 innings pitched from June through October, the lefty gave up just 10 earned runs. In September and October regular season action, Alvarado allowed zero earned runs. Over that span, he struck out 64 opposing batters.
In the postseason, the left-hander has pitched five innings — but has given up three earned runs, one of which was a solo shot to Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud in Saturday’s NLDS clincher. In those innings, Alvarado has five strikeouts. While his postseason numbers may seem lackluster, it is important to note the reliever’s passion and intensity while being asked to pitch multiple innings in those games.
Alvarado has shown dominant stuff in recent months. He left the mound on Saturday to a standing ovation from Phillies fans, who gave him the credit he deserves.
Alvarado is a left-hander who does not only need to face left-handed batters. Right-handed batters hit just .188 against him this season — compared to left-handed hitters having a .237 batting average against.
The Phillies and manager Rob Thomson will surely rely on relievers such as Alvarado as they take on the San Diego Padres this week in the NLCS.