Henderson Alvarez was very sharp versus the Boston Red Sox during his first start of the 2012 season for the Toronto Blue Jays. He gave the Blue Jays exactly what they want from a fourth starter (or any member actually) which is six solid innings.
His final line was impressive going 6 IPs, 4 hits, 1 earned, 1 walk and 2 strikeouts.
Even more impressive was his continued mastery of keeping the ball on the ground inducing 13 groundball outs with only 5 out coming via the air. Let’s look at how he attacked the Red Sox hitters with the 95 pitches he used:
|Pitch Type||Count||Avg Speed||Max Speed||Avg H-Break||Avg V-Break||Strikes / %|
|FF (Four seam)||32||93.01||96.5||-6.16||-3.08||21 / 65.6|
|FT (Two seam)||29||93.24||95.9||-9.07||-4.35||18 / 62.0|
|SL (Slider)||19||85.45||89.4||2.77||-3.36||11 / 57.8|
|CH (Changeup)||13||84.62||86.9||-4.10||-6.08||8 / 61.5|
|FC (Cutter)||2||94.75||95.4||-1.53||0.30||1 / 50.0|
*information provided by Brooks Baseball and may be inaccurate
Alvarez throws predominantly fastballs, whether it is a sinker, cutter or a four seamer. He also throws extremely hard and pounds the zone effectively with nearly all of his pitches. Look at the drop on his two-seam fastball (sinker) and how much is breaks through the zone in on right handed batters. He is a true power arm who has shown impeccable control throughout his minor league career.
Let’s see how his velocity held up throughout his start:
How he handles left handed batters will also be a key given the normal heavy platoon splits of a sinker/slider type of pitcher.
Here is a look at how he attacked the left handed Red Sox batters April 10, 2012:
A typical gameplan with sliders inside and sinkers, fastballs and change-ups away.
The continued improvement and usage of his changeup could propel Alvarez from a league average pitcher to an elite number two or three starter. Watching him operate and you can’t help but love the confidence he exudes on the mound, and it’s not hard to see why when you analyze his arsenal of power offerings.
So far his power arm has been more adept at producing weak contact and inducing groundball outs and if he could ever start missing more bats and increase his strikeout rates he could be an ace.