The Miami Marlins have started off poorly, and they may have even worse news coming around the corner. According to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, the Fish have concerns about an injury to Henderson Alvarez and will have him undergo an elbow MRI to evaluate.
Henderson Alvarez is having a MRI on his right elbow, according to sources. Would be major blow to #marlins if damage is found.— clarkspencer (@clarkspencer) April 12, 2015
Joe Frisaro of MLB.com says the Marlins have serious concerns about a potential injury.
high level of concern regarding Alvarez. Not necessarily fear of serious elbow problem. His shoulder also is a concern #Marlins— Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) April 13, 2015
Alvarez looked strong in his first start against the Atlanta Braves, putting up two strikeouts versus no walks and allowing two runs in six innings in the loss. However, he allowed four runs in five innings and was uncharacteristically out of control of his pitches in his last outing against the Tampa Bay Rays yesterday. Notably, Alvarez's velocity in his past two starts has been down, and it was worse in the last game against the Rays. In 2015, the average velocity on his fastball and two-seamer were at 94 mph according to Brooks Baseball, but in the last two games, that velocity has dipped down to 91 mph. There was also a subsequent loss of two mph on his hard changeup as well, indicating that this is much more likely to be a real loss in velocity.
This is probably what is prompting the most concern from the Marlins. Velocity drop is a major factor in efficacy of a pitcher, and in an acute setting it can definitely be an indicator of an injury. Remember, last year the Marlins only noted Jose Fernandez's eventual UCL tear because he had a two-inning acute drop in velocity from the mid-90's into the 89-90 mph range. A few days later, after he was shelled by the San Diego Padres, we found out that Fernandez would miss the rest of the season and undergo Tommy John surgery.
The Marlins have starting pitching depth, though it is not great in David Phelps and Brad Hand. The team may have to turn to those players if something serious is going in Alvarez's elbow or shoulder. Stay tuned to Fish Stripes for more details on this developing story.