The 2020 regular season is scheduled to begin in late July, which means it’s finally time to talk some baseball! To prepare you for the season, Phillies Nation will be taking an in-depth look at all of your favorite players. Here’s a review of José Álvarez’s 2019 season as well as what to expect from the Phillies reliever in 2020.
While there remain six days between now and Opening Day, the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen continues to have some uncertainties, particularly with who will be given the ball leading up to Héctor Neris in the ninth inning.
This past week, former Phillies shortstop Larry Bowa told KYW Newsradio’s Dave Uram that he believes teams who have depth in their bullpens will be able to jump out to a hot start in this shortened 60-game season. The Phillies return an important arm from last year’s bullpen in José Álvarez, who will look to build on a solid campaign in 2019.
2019 Stats: 67 G, 59.0 IP, 3-4, 3.36 ERA, 4.21 FIP, 1.424 WHIP, 10.1 H/9, 1.2 HR/9, 2.7 BB/9, 7.8 K/9, 0.4 fWAR
Following a rough start to the season where he gave up six earned runs combined in his first four outings, Álvarez became a super dependable arm out of the bullpen. His 67 outings out of the pen ranked second-most on the team behind Neris, who finished with 68.
April 15 to Aug. 15 was really where Álvarez found his success. During these 40 outings, the left-hander posted a 1.70 ERA while recording 31 strikeouts according to FanGraphs. Perhaps his best month of the season came in July when he didn’t give up a single run in nine outings. Braves, Dodgers, Mets and Nationals hitters during that month were only able to get four hits off of him while striking out 11 times.
The 31-year-old relied on his fastball which he threw 52.5% of the time, according to FanGraphs. Álvarez’s two-pitch offspeed repertoire contributed to his success as well. He increased his use of his changeup which he threw 22% of the time and his slider 18.2% of the team in 2019.
Álvarez showed why he was the Phillies’ secret weapon out of the bullpen, regardless of what part of the game his number was called, making this one of general manager Matt Klentak’s most successful underlying trades in his five years in Philadelphia.
Álvarez will once again be an arm that is handed the ball a lot this year, especially in high-leverage situations. With injuries to Seranthony Domínguez and David Roberston, he is one of the most important pieces in the Phillies bullpen, along with Neris.
Throughout his seven-year tenure in the MLB, the left-hander has favored well with batters from the same side of the plate. Left-handers have hit .238/.284/.284 against Alverez while right-handers have hit .280/.351/.419.
However, as the three-batter rule for relievers comes into effect this season, Álvarez could go up against more right-handers than normal making this something to watch for during the season. A majority of the batters that the Phillies will face this year, both the NL East and AL East combined, come from the right side of the plate.
If he can build on his 2019 campaign, Joe Girardi will have a reliable and trustworthy option to go to either in the seventh or eighth inning out of the bullpen.
Check out our previous 2020 Season Previews
- Héctor Neris
- Zach Eflin
- Adam Morgan
- Jean Segura
- Aaron Nola
- Rhys Hoskins
- Zack Wheeler
- Didi Gregorius
- Nick Pivetta
- Adam Haseley
- Andrew McCutchen
- Vince Velasquez
- Roman Quinn
- Scott Kingery
- Andrew Knapp
- Spencer Howard
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