R.J. Alvarez: A’s Setup Man?
By Jason Burke
The Oakland Athletics acquired R.J. Alvarez in the deal that sent Derek Norris to San Diego a couple of weeks ago. While Jesse Hahn and his curveball initially headlined the return, it could be Alvarez that has the bigger impact in 2015.
MLB Pipeline says of the righty, “Alvarez is all power on the mound. His fastball sits around 95 mph and can edge higher on the radar gun. After struggling to throw his curveball for strikes, Alvarez replaced it with a slider that has quickly become a solid offering. He also occasionally mixes in a changeup.”
In ten games with the Padres last season, R.J. Alvarez totaled eight innings pitched with a 1.13 ERA and a 10.13 K/9 rate. The trouble for the reliever, as Pipeline stated, is throwing strikes. In his brief stint with San Diego, Alvarez walked five, for a BB/9 ratio of 5.63, which is much too high for a relief pitcher.
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Pipeline also says, “The Angels didn’t use Alvarez much as a closer, but he has the stuff to pitch high-leverage innings. After getting his first taste of the Major Leagues, Alvarez should soon be ready for a more regular role at that level.”
Since the A’s already have Sean Doolittle slotted into the closer role, and the A’s seemingly need a right-handed option late in games, R.J. Alvarez could definitely work his way into a setup role over the course of 2015. His addition to the bullpen could also make Ryan Cook expendable as the season approaches, with Dan Otero being another solid righty that Bob Melvin can rely upon at any point in a game.
Eric O’Flaherty is another name that could be floated around the trade deadline, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.
Back to Alvarez. He is a fly ball pitcher, with 55.6 percent of his outs coming in the air in his brief stint in the majors, while only 22.2 percent were hit on the ground. According to FanGraphs, he uses his fastball 72.8 percent of the time, and it clocks in at 94.9 mph. His other two pitches, the slider (85.7 mph) and changeup (89.0 mph) and used 22.2 and 5.1 percent of the time.
If the scouting report on R.J. Alvarez is correct, we can add his name to the list of players that could play a huge role in 2015 and beyond for the Oakland Athletics. Plus, he has some amazing beard game, so what’s not to be excited about?