Phillies 2023 report cards: Grading the bullpen

For what has been a rocky unit for most of the last decade, the 2023 Phillies flipped the script and had one of the best arm barns in the league.
Colorado Rockies v Philadelphia Phillies
Colorado Rockies v Philadelphia Phillies / Rich Schultz/GettyImages
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José Alvarado

José, José, José, José, the savior of many games, the escape artist, and the lifeblood of the Phillies bullpen.

He was a big question mark when acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays late in 2020. He was another guy who, if he could control his stuff, would be unhittable. Well, this year, it all came together for him.

The 28-year-old put together the best season of his career, posting a 1.74 ERA over 41 innings. He missed some time with elbow injuries throughout the year, but that didn't affect his command. He walked only 18 hitters, a third of what he allowed in his first year as a Phillie in 2021. His walk rate was down to 3.9 BB/9, and he struck out hitters at a rate of 14 batters per nine innings.

Not only does his on-field performance affect the team greatly, but what he does off the field can't go unseen. Throughout the year, players including Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, and Alec Bohm were seen sporting Alvarado's custom-made "friendship necklaces" that he had made for his teammates. The lefty is also constantly seen messing around, joking with teammates, and of course, bringing the energy while on the mound.

Alvarado's improved control issues is one of the biggest takeaways for the Phillies in 2023. Having an elite-level lefty arm who can pump 100-plus mph consistently, while adding in a cutter that moves like a slider is a weapon that any manager would love to have.

If he can stay on the field in 2024, don't be surprised if you see him in Texas for All-Star weekend.

Grade: A