Miami Marlins starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez appeared to be ready to return to the major league club by mid-May. He was set to begin a rehab assignment in the low minors this week, but those plans have changed. Alvarez recently suffered from some right shoulder discomfort as he was working towards beginning his rehab stint, and now the Marlins have once again shut down the right-hander for injury precautions.
"He's going to be down," Redmond said. "He's taking a break."
Alvarez initially went on the disabled list a day before the season began with what was called right shoulder inflammation. He and Nathan Eovaldi both went on the DL at the same time, and their sudden injury conditions are what encouraged the Marlins to make the decision to promote Jose Fernandez to the major league club. So far, Fernandez has a 4.50 ERA and 3.68 FIP in five starts and 24 innings of work.
Alvarez has no timetable now to return, with the severity of his shoulder problem unknown. There is a possibility the Marlins will get more imaging for his shoulder done to evaluate the ongoing inflammation and pain issue. This means that the Marlins will get a chance to wait a little while longer before they decide who among the two remaining contenders for bullpen or minor league demotion will survive in the rotation. Wade LeBlanc (6.23 ERA, 4.80 FIP) and Alex Sanabia (4.67 ERA, 5.61 FIP) have both been very bad, while the other previous candidate, Kevin Slowey (2.14 ERA, 3.15 FIP) has separated himself from the pack.
If and when Alvarez returns from the injury, expect Sanabia to receive a demotion to the minors. LeBlanc has no options remaining while Sanabia still has an option, and the Marlins are probably happy having a left-handed presence in the rotation. However, this race may actually be determined in the next few starts, so if one player has one or two good starts before Alvarez's return, expect Mike Redmond to play the "hot hand" and keep the one with the supposed momentum.