Alvarado felt tightness in his wrist prior to Tuesday’s game, prompting the Phillies to send the reliever for an MRI. The test revealed inflammation, though Alvarado was sent to see another doctor Wednesday afternoon.
“When the wrist was tight, we wanted to check everything out, so that's why we did the MRI and that's what we found,” manager Rob Thomson said. “That's where the pain is coming from. … He's a big part of the bullpen. He's one of the best relievers in baseball, if not the best. I'm a little concerned, for sure.”
Alvarado, who is in his third year with the Phillies, has emerged as one of the club’s go-to late-inning relievers, sporting a 1.88 ERA in 14 1/3 innings to go along with a team-leading five saves.
Gregory Soto and Craig Kimbrel will handle late-inning duties during Alvarado’s absence, Thomson said, while other relievers including Matt Strahm, Seranthony Domínguez and Andrew Vasquez will also have bigger roles in bridging the gap from the starter to the back end.
Thomson said Alvarado had not been dealing with any arm issues of late, though the reliever had been battling “general body soreness.” The current plan is for Alvarado to remain with the team during the upcoming road trip to Colorado and San Francisco.
“I went back through my records, because every time there's an injury or something goes on, I go back through and look at how much he's been used,” Thomson said. “He's only gone back-to-back one time all year, which shocked me, frankly. He gets sore; he applies so much pressure to his body that he just gets general soreness.”
Alvarado’s last appearance was a scoreless inning in the Phillies’ 6-1 win over the Red Sox on Sunday. Alvarado ranks in the 100th percentile in strikeout rate (he has 24 punchouts on the season) and the 82nd percentile in expected batting average. He also has yet to walk a batter.
He recently set a club record when he struck out multiple batters in 14 straight games.
After having a 3.18 ERA in 51 regular-season innings last year, Alvarado was sharp in the postseason, yielding one run over 6 2/3 combined innings in the National League Division Series and NLCS, though he ceded four runs in four appearances in the World Series.
The only other Phillies hurler with multiple saves this year is Kimbrel, who is an eight-time All-Star with 397 career saves. That said, Kimbrel has struggled this season, holding a 7.62 ERA over 13 innings.
Bellatti allowed six runs in 8 2/3 innings before going on the injured list at the end of April. He threw two scoreless innings in two rehab appearances prior to being reinstated.