Update from Friday, May 30
Juan Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel has the latest on Alvarez:
Joe Frisaro of MLB.com tweeted out the team announcement:
Alvarez right elbow stiffness. Removed for precautionary reasons #Marlins— Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) May 29, 2014
Alvarez, 24, threw 65 pitches in five innings of scoreless work. He struck out two and allowed five hits, exiting after the Marlins had jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Relievers Chris Hatcher and A.J. Ramos later entered the game and ended Alvarez's chance of winning his third game of the season.
In his fourth big league campaign, Alvarez is 2-3 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. Though the underlying numbers suggest he's gotten a little lucky this season, he has been arguably the Marlins' best pitcher since Jose Fernandez's elbow injury. The five scoreless innings allows Alvarez to eclipse Tom Koehler for the team's best ERA among active starting pitchers.
The Marlins had also won four of Alvarez's last five starts, just one of which has resulted in a win on his stat sheet. Miami was 27-25 and 1.5 games out of first place in the NL East prior to Wednesday's game, based largely on the all-around strength of its roster. Fernandez's season-ending injury robbed the Marlins of arguably baseball's best young pitcher, thinning the herd and foisting more responsibilities on the remaining guys.
Right elbow stiffness for Henderson Alvarez. Marlins fans wince.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) May 29, 2014
Any arm injury with Alvarez is an obvious concern. He missed almost the entire first half of last season while recovering from shoulder inflammation. The Marlins have pushed his pitch count over 100 only twice in 2014 and have largely tried to remain conservative in his use. While he's thrown two complete games, his season-high pitch count is 111.
The Marlins are currently saying pulling him is a precaution, but the glut of elbow injuries and Tommy John surgeries this season make it natural to fear the worst. It's possible Mike Redmond was being conservative with a pitcher who has a documented history of arm problems.
Only further testing will answer that question for sure.
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