Chicago Cubs: The Curious Case of Dario Alvarez
By Logan Whaley
The Chicago Cubs were looking for bullpen help. Now they are hoping that Alvarez can provide a silent spark in 2018.
In December, the Chicago Cubs made a quiet off-season acquisition to which many people probably paid no attention. The team made official the signing of former Rangers relief pitcher Dario Alvarez to a one-year major league contract. As the season approaches the Cubs hope Alvarez can make an impact.
Alvarez is no doubt the definition of a journeyman. As a free-agent, in 2007, he signed with the Phillies. He played in the clubs Dominican Summer League for three seasons. The Phillies saw his raw talent, and he provided a glimmer of hope in his first season as he posted a 12.39 K/9 ratio.
By 2009, Alvarez had shown signs of improving but was released by the Phillies. But it would be a few years before he caught back on in 2013 when he signed a contract with the Mets.
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Accordingly, Alvarez found early-form success with the Mets as he worked his way all the way from Low-A ball to the major leagues by 2014.
Consequently, he was listed as the team’s No. 22 ranked prospect in 2014. The major league success would be short-lived as he posted a 13.50 earned run average in only 1 1/3innings.
The next few seasons Alvarez worked his way mostly between the Mets and the Rangers. Last season Alvarez appeared in twenty games for the Rangers in which he threw 16 1/3 innings and posted a respectably low 2.76 earned run average.
A chance with the Cubs?
The Rangers did, however, designate him for assignment, and the Cubs decided to give him a shot with the one-year deal.
As a matter of fact, Alvarez has relied mostly on two pitches, a fastball, and a slider. Furthermore, he throws the slider the majority of the time and has even been known to throw a sinker and a changeup.
The Cubs currently have two left-handed relievers in their bullpen in Justin Wilson and newly re-signed Brian Duensing. In fact, this could be advantageous to Alvarez in hopes of winning a spot come Opening Day. No doubt Alvarez could provide much-needed depth for the Cubs and the extent that they are seeking.
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In addition, Dario Alvarez does possess a big arm and a high strikeout rate. At any rate these attributes are both things that the Cubs bullpen desperately need after the loss of All-Star Closer Wade Davis to the Colorado Rockies.
Ultimately, a benefit the Cubs have is that Alvarez still does have one option remaining, so that does take pressure off both the club and him come spring training. Alvarez is a curious case, and the Chicago Cubs are hoping that he can ultimately bring them success in 2018.