On Saturday the Tigers announced they were calling up LHP Jose Alvarez from Toledo to start Sunday's game against Cleveland. Here is a look at Alvarez this season, including stats, thoughts, and an analysis of his June 3 start against Louisville.
STATS: In 12 starts for the Mud Hens, Jose Alvarez has posted a 5-4 record with a 2.42 ERA. In 74.1 innings of work he has allowed 60 hits and 15 walks that have produced 25 runs, 20 of which were earned. Alvarez has struck out 76.
For the season, Alvarez has a .216 opponents batting average and a 1.01 WHIP.
RANKINGS: Alvarez ranks second in the International League with a 2.42 ERA, and he leads the league in strikeouts (76), WHIP (1.01) and baserunners per nine innings (9.20). He ranks third in innings pitched (74.1) and third in opponent's batting average (.216).
SEASON: The 23-year-old Alvarez had never pitched about Double-A before this season, which began with him as Toledo's fifth starter. In his first start he got roughed up for seven hits and three runs in four innings, and his early starts showed a little inconsistency in throwing strikes, and he was "wild in the strike zone" -- throwing strikes, but not quality strikes.
But late in the month of April he really put things together and finished with a 1.61 ERA. In May he was impressive, posting a 4-1 record and 2.79 ERA thanks to his ability to spot his fastball inside against right-handed hitters and a solid command of all of his pitches.
JUNE 3 v. LOUISVILLE: In this contest Alvarez was a hard-luck 3-2 loser to the Bats after a misplay in the outfield turned into an inside-the-park home run for Billy Hamilton. In 7.2 innings of work, Alvarez gave up five hits and one walk while striking out nine.
In the contest Alvarez threw 102 pitches, 71 for strikes. He threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of the 29 batters he faced (65.5 percent), with 10 of those first-pitch strikes coming on swings. He reached a 2-0 count on just three hitters (one walk, one hit, one out) and got ahead of nine batters 0-2 (six strikeouts, one hit (a bloop) and two other outs).
OK, pitch speeds ... with the usual asterisk: I'm trying to determine pitches from the press box, so it's an imperfect science at best. Also , the inside-the-park home run forced me to miss a few pitches. Here we go ...
Alvarez throws two types of fastballs, a four-seamer and a cutter. His four-seamer sits at 90-92 mph and his cutter is in the 87-89 mph range. He also throws a change-up and two curveballs, a "slow" curveball (73-76 mph) and a "faster" curveball (78-80 mph).
Against Louisville on Monday Alvarez threw 17 four-seamers, 11 for strikes (two at 92, nine at 91, six at 90) and 19 cutters, 12 for strikes (four at 87, seven at 88, and eight at 89). He threw 13 change-ups, 11 for strikes (three at 83, four at 84, two at 85, four at 86). He threw 25 "slow" curveballs, 19 for strikes (two at 73, five at 74, seven at 75 and 11 at 76) and 18 "fast" curveballs, 12 for strikes (five at 78, three at 79, five at 80 and five at 81).
There also were four pitches at 82 mph, which could be change-ups or curveballs. And obviously some of the fast curves could be change-ups and slower change-ups could be curves.
A few things worth noting ... The slower curve has been a "swing-and-miss" pitch, with eight of those 19 strikes being swings and misses. Second, his strikeouts included two on the four-seamer (both swinging), three on the cutter (interestingly, all three looking), two on the slow curve (both swinging) and two on the fast curve (both swinging).
Apologies that I don't seem to get the pitch speed on the hits ... I didn't get the pitch speed on Hamilton's homer (ball-watching) or the double that followed (researching ... occupational hazard). The two hits I did measure came on the slow curve (a bloop double that was more luck than skill) and a single on the four-seamer.