Archive for the ‘Henderson Alvarez’ Category

alvarezno-no

It’s been a great day for baseball so far, and it isn’t over yet. Even the Jays, who once trailed Tampa 7-0, brought the winning run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh (don’t ask), meaning that the Rays remain hardly safe to get through to the Wild Card play-in game, or whatever tiebreaker may be necessary to determine who does. Meanwhile, the Rangers are down early, the Clevelands are up, and the Brewers– who would secure the Jays a protected pick with a win– lead the Mets 2-1 late (note: not anymore).

And there are great stories on the individual front, too, as the image above comes from Miami, where ex-Jay Henderson Alvarez pitched a no-hitter against the Tigers– which ended on a wild pitch, as the Marlins scored their lone run of the game in the bottom of the ninth, with two outs, the bases loaded, and Alvarez himself on deck.

And here in Toronto, of course, there’s Darren Oliver, who ended his career with a 1-2-3 inning, with a pair of strikeouts, one of which was to his last batter, Evan Longoria, who was frozen on a curveball for a called third strike. Not many better hitters in the game to do that to while ending a terrific career.

Baseball’s pretty damn cool sometimes, even if… yeah, as far as that whole winning-run-to-the-plate thing goes, don’t ask. Seriously. If you were looking for season-ending wistfulness, here you have it. I won’t even complain about the Rays demonstrating right in the Jays’ faces why it’s absurd that our team moved away from defensive shifts this year. Well… not too much.

UPDATE THE FIRST:

The Jays just missed a huge opportunity with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, with Moises Sierra striking out to Fernando Rodney ending the threat. But they’re within a run with three outs left– a run that would put a huge dent in the Rays’ playoff chances.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Jays would-be starter today, Henderson Alvarez, was shielded from the prying eyes of the Boston Red Sox regulars, so he ended up playing in a minor league game against the High-A Tampa Yankees. Predictably, things went well, as– according to a Mike Wilner tweet– he went seven innings, allowing just two hits, no walks, and striking out four while throwing 72 pitches, 57 of which went for strikes, and topping out at 95.

It’s a level of dominance to be expected from a Major League pitcher against that level of competition, yes. But Wilner gives a little perspective:

Of course, with Alvarez dominating guys from A-ball, somebody had to face the Red Sox regulars (Ellsbury, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Ortiz, etc.). That task went to Drew “15 innings above A-ball” Hutchison, who went four innings, giving up four hits, one walk, and just one run, striking out two.

Far more importantly, though, he hit Kevin Youkilis with a pitch. HOW CAN YOU NOT LIKE THIS GUY???

With a shit-tonne of shit now shit-streaming in from Dunedin, it only seems prudent (read: easiest), instead of creating a massive commentary-laden Afternoon Snack, to pile all of the day’s links into one dump, then following that up with some expanded commentary where necessary. So that’s what we’re going to do each day. Unless we don’t. It’s your Further Comment…

There was a lot of talk in the papers (online ones and otherwise) about the Jays’ number four starter, the hard-throwing-but-inexperienced Henderson Alvarez. Most of it centred around the absolute, unquestioned most important aspect of his game right now, the development of his slider.

He succeeded in his short, Baltimore- and Oakland-heavy, first tour in the AL using essentially just his hard sinking fastball and his changeup. That has to change if he’s to succeed over the long haul, which is why Alvarez he’s been working on his slider over the winter.

“I feel better with my slider than I did last year,” he explained to reporters (as quoted in the various reports linked to in today’s Afternoon Snack), with the help of translator Luis Rivera. “I went back to Venezuela and worked on it. It’s a pitch I’m going to need to get more people out. Pitching with just a fastball and changeup, you need to be on top of your game, and now with a slider that’s another pitch to put in the hitter’s mind. So I needed that pitch.”

He adds that “when I was in Venezuela I faced some hitters — I threw about five live batting practices, facing hitters from other organizations,” and pretty much acted the part of a member of a Venezuelan Winter League team, apart from actually throwing in games– which was a specific request of the Jays.

The picture we’re given is of a willing student, who last spring– as a non-roster invitee– says he “was watching every game, I was watching how the pitchers attacked hitters and how they were trying to get people out. It was something I learned, I studied and I put in practice last year and hopefully this year I can continue to do that.”

Combine that kind of aptitude for study with his raw talent, and you really might have something.

“The way he finished last year, I think he got a better feel for shortening up and creating a little more power to it, where it gave it a little bit more of a later action when it approached the strike zone,” John Farrell said of the slider. “It’s a pitch that he felt more comfortable with as the year went on, and it gives him three distinct pitches.”

“To me when you get into cutter/slider you’re starting to split hairs a little bit,” Richard Griffin’s piece added in his piece for the Toronto Star. “With him, if the mindset is cutter, it’s still got a true slider type of break to it. It’s not adding any pressure to his elbow or his arm and it’s a pitch, at this level, the later the action to get quality big-league hitters out.”

“I feel like it’s a pitch that will give him that opportunity to do that,” he added, according to Gregor Chisholm’s MLB.com piece.

It’s still a work in progress, of course, and that’s not likely to change over the course of the next 30 days. He might need to spend time in New Hampshire working on it, even. But if this is the year he can make it happen, holy shit, look out.