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Are Jose Alvarez’s Days Numbered?

Not a fan favorite, Alvarez has been struggling for a while.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Houston Astros
He’s been one of the bullpen constants for a while.
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

You and I both know the feeling of dread whenever Mike Scioscia strolls onto the mound, looks at the bullpen, and pats his right hand on his left arm. This year, and for the duration of my short-term memory, there has only been one lefty in the bullpen, so Alvarez trots in. He’ll use his litany of pitches, the fastball away, the breaking ball down, and soon enough, more often than not, someone smacks a baseball into a place we don’t like. The hitter runs for the hills, or maybe trots, and Alvarez hangs his head, but the damage is done.

We traded for Alvarez back in March 2014, before the Eppler era, getting him from the Tigers and giving up super utility guy Andrew Romine. Incidentally, Romine is really a super utility guy, playing every position but catcher last year. But I digress. He appeared just twice for the Angels that year, but in 2015 and 2016, he was a stalwart of the Angels bullpen, putting up WHIPs of 1.21 and 1.50, respectively, gaining a reputation as a “solid” pitcher who faltered sometimes in high-leverage situations. As the best, and sometimes lone, lefty, however, whenever Scioscia decided to play his matchups, Alvarez was the guy to which he turned. He was...okay.

This year, Alvarez resumed his usual place in the Angels bullpen. He’s appeared in just under half of the Angels’ games, 38 of 78, and he actually started off the season extremely well. However, since May 17, Alvarez has allowed 20 hits and 13 runs in 14 innings, exactly what the Angels want out of a reliever. The yellow sunflower in a sea of roses, Alvarez is a blemish on an otherwise successful season for the Angels bullpen. His ERA and FIP are both up, to 5.27 and 4.42, and he’s allowed the most homers since his rookie season with the Tigers. Per Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register, Scioscia defends Alvarez.

“He just seems to be making more mistakes,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “The first couple months he had really good command, fastball command glove side, mixing two different breaking balls. Now, he’ll make a couple good pitches and all of the sudden, trying to put a guy away, make a mistake.”

Scioscia suggested that perhaps Alvarez is feeling the affects of “being used a lot” and they may try to shorten his outings “till he freshens up.”

It doesn’t matter what the reason is. Maybe the reason has been in front of us the entire time. Jose Alvarez sucks is just an average major league pitcher. In our bullpen, however, we have some decidedly above-average pitchers. Blake Parker. David Hernandez. Keynan Middleton. Cam Bedrosian. Yusmeiro Petit. Deolis Guerra. Even Huston Street, just back from the DL. These are names that will become part of Angels lore as the Team of Destiny wins the World Series this year the Angels bullpen backbone for the next few years. They’re all good. They’re all trustworthy.

Fletcher goes on to note,

Alvarez is one of three pitchers in the current Angels bullpen who can be optioned. The others are Keynan Middleton and Eduardo Paredes. One of the relievers is going to go soon, no matter what, because the Angels currently have an eight-man bullpen, which is one more than usual. A second reliever also is likely to go when Bud Norris comes off the disabled list, which is expected to be sometime next week.

Alvarez is currently the only lefty in the bullpen, but the Angels have gone without a lefty in the bullpen before.

One would expect that after the Dodgers series, when CJ Cron is likely to return, that Paredes would go down. But when Norris comes back? Will we DFA Deolis Guerra to save our precious lefty? How about sometime in July, when Andrew Bailey is slated to return? What then? Getting rid of a successful reliever is a high price to pay to keep a lefty who has been essentially the same vs. lefties and righties this year (.754 OPS against righties, .742 OPS against lefties).

Alvarez is up for his first year of arbitration this year, and a fair comp is Brad Hand, who is earning $1.375 million in his first year of arb this year. Is Alvarez a non-tender candidate?

Will Jose Alvarez pitch his last inning as an Angel soon?

In a year where this team has many similar traits as the 2002 roster, what with the speed, the contact hitting (though someone should tell Espinosa and Valbuena), and the defense (allegedly), we should remove the weak link to the Angels bullpen so that trait can match up as well.


Will Jose Alvarez be with the Angels next year?

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  • 11%
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    (209 votes)
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