Griffin: Blue Jays' Henderson Alvarez better than his record
BALTIMORE - On Tuesday night at Camden Yards, Jays' starter Henderson Alvarez returns to the scene of his first major-league victory for a start against the Orioles. In fact it remains his one and only win in the bigs after 13 starts.
Alvarez beat the O's 13-0 on August 31, 2011, allowing just three hits in eight innings, in what was his fifth Jays' start after being recalled in July. Alvarez allowed just one run through seven scoreless innings before DH Vladimir Guerrero led off the eighth with the O's second hit. He allowed one more in the eighth to Robert Andino and then was relieved for the ninth inning. An impressive outing in what has always been regarded as a hitter's ballpark.
The just turned 22-year-old Venezuelan, from the same home town as his hero Felix Hernandez of the Mariners, has been far better than his 1-4 career record, which includes a 0-1 mark in three outings in 2012. Consider that Alvarez has worked at least five innings in all 13 of his MLB starts and has thrown between 87 and 107 pitches every time out. It's the type of consistency and depth into ballgames that major-league managers desire from their mid-to back-end guys in any rotation. They're getting just that from Alvarez.
The young Jays' starter has impressed his manager John Farrell with his ability to throw strikes --just 12 walks in 83 career innings -- and his ability to pitch to contact and create outs within the strikezone with a nasty sinking fastball that runs from 92-95 miles-per hour and a changeup that he is learning to command at two different speeds.
So why does it not lead to more wins. In fact 21-year-old righthander Drew Hutchison just made his major-league debut on April 21 in Kansas City and has already tied Alvarez for career wins with one. Hutchison was the beneficiary of nine Jays' runs against Royals pitching and while he was okay considering it was his debut, with 5-1/3 innings, allowing five earned runs on eight hits, with three walks and four strikeouts in 99 pitches, Alvarez has often been better and come up with either a loss or a no decision.
In fact, other than the 13 runs in Alvarez' victory last year at Camden Yards, the Jays have scored just 42 runs in his 12 remaining starts, an average of 3.5 runs per outing.
With Hutchison, Alvarez and Kyle Drabek, it's been a long time since the Jays have boasted a 24-year-old a 22-year-old and a 21-year-old in the same five-man startng rotation.