The Phillies may be without one of the better arms out of their bullpen in the near future as left-handed reliever Jose Alvarado was suspended for 3 games by Major League Baseball on Sunday. The suspension is in relation to his actions in an altercation with Mets outfielder Dominic Smith on Friday in Philadelphia. Alvarado is appealing the suspension and is able to continue pitching while the appeal process plays out.
Alvarado pitched the 8th inning of what would ultimately become the Phillies 2-1 win on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park. With the same narrow lead entering the 8th, Alvarado was wild all inning but was able to work his way into and out of danger. He hit Mets 2nd baseman Jeff McNeil with a 1-0 pitch to start the inning before getting sluggers Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto to both flyout, though McNeil tagged and went to 2nd base on Alonso’s deep fly.
Right-hand hitting JD Davis was then intentionally walked with first base open to bring the left-handed Smith to the plate to face Alvarado. Alvarado would throw a wild pitch in the at bat, allowing both runners to move into scoring position. He would then fall behind Smith 3-0 in the count before coming all the way back to strike him out with a 97-mph sinker.
Upon setting Smith down on strikes and ending the inning, Alvarado was understandably emotional in completing his escape. He turned his back to the plate and pumped his arms before turning back around and gesturing towards Smith. He would use his glove-free left hand to make a talking motion at Smith before throwing his mitt completely off and acting as though he was preparing to fight.
Smith took offense to these actions and began confronting Alvarado from a distance and drawing closer to him before both benches emptied and got between the players. No punches were thrown during the confrontation. After the game Smith continued the feud with his words, most prominently stating that he was ready to handle the situation by meeting Alvarado in the tunnel to fight.
Alvarado and Smith were both fined undisclosed amounts by the league office. Smith however did not receive a suspension for his actions. Mets pitcher Miguel Castro did also receive an undisclosed fine as well as he would proceed to buzz Phillies 1st baseman Rhys Hoskins with two inside fastballs at upwards of 97 mph. Neither pitch hit Hoskins, though he would walk in the 8th inning at bat on 4 straight balls. As stated before, the Phillies would win the series opener 2-1 and are looking to win the rubber match of the 3-game series vs. the Mets tonight.
If Alvarado is lost it will be a brief, but significant hit to a bullpen that has upticked from its horrid performance in 2020. Alvarado has put together 8 Innings Pitched allowing only 1 run for an ERA of 1.13. He has struck out 13 hitters while only walking 3, though he has also hit 3 batters, two of which are Mets. Hitters are hitting only .091 against Alvarado in high leverage situations like the one he worked out of vs. Smith on Friday.
Feature Image: Rueters