Oakland Athletics 2016 Preview: Relief Pitcher R.J. Alvarez


Oakland Athletics’ reliever R.J. Alvarez looks to bounce back after a tough 2015 season

Back in September of 2014, then-23-year-old reliever R.J. Alvarez made his MLB debut with the San Diego Padres and dazzled. Throughout the month, Alvarez only allowed one run and three hits over his 10 outings. He ended his first month in the major leagues with a 1.13 ERA and nine strikeouts over eight innings pitched.

Alvarez came to the Oakland Athletics in the Derek Norris trade that took place on December 18, 2014. The A’s also acquired Jesse Hahn at this time. Alvarez did ok during spring training with the Athletics in 2015 — well enough to make the Opening Day roster. However, his minor struggles during spring camp last year should have been a sign that the regular season was going to a tough one for Alvarez.

Alvarez’ 2015 season is one to be forgotten. He only threw made 21 outings, but racked up a 9.90 ERA. He performed so poorly during April and May of that year, that Alvarez spent the much of the rest of the 2015 season in Triple-A. He did come back to the O.co Coliseum in September and showed some improvement, but not that much.

Despite his poor showing in 2015, Alvarez, now 24 years old, is back with the A’s for the 2016 season and ready to prove that the success he found during his MLB debut with San Diego was not a fluke. Alvarez already made some changes this offseason in order better himself for this upcoming year. First off, Alvarez came to camp almost 10 pounds lighter, demonstrating that he is fit and working hard to improve his talent. Secondly, he is adding a two-seam fastball to his pitching repertoire. Finally, he is working on his consistency, which was a huge issue for Alvarez last season.

Alvarez has a strong arm, yet in 2015, he could not control it very well. This offseason, he worked on his delivery to make sure he is consistently delivering the ball into the correct location above the plate each and every time. He will continue to work on this throughout the spring.

Manager Bob Melvin told the press on Tuesday that he was impressed with Alvarez’ hard work this offseason. Additionally, he mentioned that if Alvarez can find a tempo and be consistent while on the mound, he could become a late inning reliever for the Oakland Athletics.

Right now, it is seems as though Alvarez and Ryan Dull will be competing for the seventh and final bullpen spot. If Alvarez can show improvement this spring, he could get the job over Dull since Dull only spent a very short amount of time in Triple-A in 2015 before he was called up to the big leagues last September. However, Alvarez will have to prove that he is a dependable and consistent relief pitcher. The Oakland Athletics do not want any unreliable relievers this season in lieu of what happened to the bullpen in 2015.

Bold Prediction: R.J. Alvarez will become the new Dan Otero circa 2014 – reliable and consistent yet not flashy or showy about his ability. He will just get the job done. 

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Will R.J. Alvarez make the Oakland Athletics bullpen over Ryan Dull? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!