The Miami Marlins came into the 2015 season knowing that their ace Jose Fernandez would miss the first half of the season, as he battled back from Tommy John surgery. Yet, when they had an opportunity to jump into the James Shields sweepstakes, the Marlins held back and decided to wait, costing them a chance to sign the former Tampa Bay Ray and Kansas City Royal ace.
This cost the team dearly as the season went on. With no depth to speak of, the Marlins ended up using 13 different starting pitchers throughout the 2015 season, as the team had several starting pitchers spend some time on the disabled list.
We’ve already done a season review on Jose Fernandez, Tom Koehler (here), and the rookie starters from the team. Today we’ll take a look at the guy who was supposed to be the Miami Marlins ace for the first half of the 2015 season, Henderson Alvarez.
Henderson Alvarez had an excellent 2014 season, emerging as the Miami Marlins de-facto ace after Jose Fernandez went down with his elbow injury. Alvarez posted a 2.65 ERA and a 3.58 FIP in 30 starts and 187 innings for the team. The only blemish on Alvarez’s 2014 resume had to be his stint on the disabled list, with shoulder inflammation near the end of July.
The injury, at the time, was not considered serious and Alvarez did finish the season for the Marlins, but it had to be somewhat of a red flag for the team, as it was the second consecutive season Alvarez spent on the DL with a shoulder issue.
Just two starts into the season, Alvarez was back on the DL, this time for the same woeful shoulder inflammation, as well as newly developed elbow inflammation. The two injuries cost him a month of the 2015 season, with him returning to make two more starts, before going down again, and eventually getting shoulder surgery to end his season.
Before his second injury that knocked him out for the season, we learned some disturbing news about Alvarez’s elbow. According to a report from CBS’s Jon Heyman, Alvarez has pitched with a “90% torn UCL” for years. The Marlins did have prior knowledge about this injury before they traded for Alvarez in that Jose Reyes blockbuster deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Overall, on the season, Alvarez posted a 6.45 ERA and a 3.85 FIP in 22 1/3 innings of work. Alvarez struck out just 8.8% of the hitters he faced and walked 6.9% of them. A far cry from his 2015 numbers.
Alvarez is expected to start throwing in December, but not expected by many in the Marlins organization to be ready for opening day. Even if he was, Alvarez is a tough guy for the Marlins to bank on staying healthy for a full season.
For that reason, the Miami Marlins are likely to seek two starting pitchers this off-season. While there has been speculation that Alvarez could be non-tendered, that would be a tremendous risk for the team to take, especially with Alvarez not expected to rake in a huge arbitration amount.
Unfortunately for Alvarez and the Miami Marlins, Alvarez’s future does not look as bright as it did coming off the 2014 season.