José Alvarado LHP PHI
The name José Alvarado should be a familiar one to Jays fans. The Venezuelan-born lefty spent four years in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, where he appeared in 149 games, a number of those coming against the Blue Jays.
Alvarado is known as a pitcher who has a phenomenal arsenal but struggles with command, which has prevented him from fully tapping into his potential thus far in his career. The left-hander has one of the best fastballs in all of baseball. Alvarado’s heater sits in the upper 90’s and regularly touches triple digits, with a tremendous amount of arm side run. He combines his fastball with a mid 90’s slider and a slower curveball that has plenty of movement. When Alvarado has all three pitches working, he provides a super uncomfortable at-bat for hitters, due to the elite velocity and insane amount of movement he possesses.
The issue for Alvarado is that he rarely has all of his offerings on point, and because of this, he struggles to throw strikes consistently. Over the course of his career, the hard-throwing lefty has walked a whopping 5.3 batters per nine innings. This year alone he’s allowed 7.4 free passes per nine but has still managed to post a very impressive 2.79 ERA in 29 innings of work.
Alvarado has become a quality relief pitcher, despite his erratic control thanks to his strikeout stuff, as he is able to pitch himself out of jams due to how electric his arsenal is. If the left-hander was able to harness his command and wasn’t always pitching himself in and out of trouble, that already impressive ERA would be a lot lower than where it is right now.
The Blue Jays have pitching coach Pete Walker at their disposal, who was able to fix a similar issue with Robbie Ray this past offseason, which has turned him into a legitimate All-Star candidate. I believe that if Walker is given the opportunity to get his hands on Alvarado, that he has the chance to work the same magic that he used on Ray. If he’s able to do so, Alvarado has the arsenal to turn into one of the better pitchers in the game, and a true shutdown reliever that can come in and pitch in high leverage situations.
Alvarado does have two years of control left after this season. Philadelphia was a team trying to compete this year and with the amount of money they have invested in their core, I believe they will attempt to do the same next season. They may want to hold onto Alvarado to help them down the road, however, the Phillies may be frustrated with the lefty’s erratic command and could be ready to move off from him because of this.
If GM Dave Dombrowski is willing to listen to calls on Alvarado, I think he could be an interesting addition to this ball club. He’s already a quality reliever and would instantly become one of the best in the Blue Jays bullpen, but also has the upside to turn into a special talent, he just has to harness his command to do so.