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2020 player reviews: Jose Alvarez

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One strike, one ball

MLB: Game One-Philadelphia Phillies at Toronto Blue Jays
Up until this point, Alvarez was having a good season
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The numbers

0-0 W-L, 1.20 ERA, 8.53 K/9, 4.26 BB/9, 0.1 fWAR

The good

Unlike just about every other reliever who suited up for the Phillies in 2020, Jose Alvarez actually pitched well. He was scored upon in only one of his eight appearances.

Before the season, Alvarez’s career splits raised concerns that the “three batter rule” would lessen his effectiveness, because he’d inevitably have to face more right-handed batters. However, unlike in previous years, he was actually much better against righties than lefties in 2020. Lefties managed a 1.056 OPS against Alvarez, while he held righties to a .561 mark. Chances are, those numbers would have normalized over a full season, but it was still a bit strange.

The bad

Despite that success, and despite the dumpster fire quality of the rest of the relievers, Alvarez might have had the worst season out of any of them. Why?

Ouch.

That was the last we saw of Alvarez in 2020. Losing one of their few reliable bullpen options was the last thing the Phillies needed. Considering that one extra win would have gotten them into the playoffs, Alvarez’s injury may have been the difference.

The future

Alvarez is a free agent, and given the Phillies’ dearth of good relievers in 2020, it would make sense to see about bringing him back. Yes, his injury was painful, but it doesn’t seem like something that should have long-term negative effects on his ability to pitch. (Unless he’s a little lopsided from now on.)

As always, it will come down to price, but with payrolls expected to drop throughout baseball, I can’t imagine a 32-year-old middle reliever is going to be in line for a huge pay day.