Before Jose Fernandez's UCL popped, he was enjoying a fantastic sophomore season. He'd tallied nearly twice as many strikeouts as hits allowed, and five times as many strikeouts as walks. He'd surrendered just four home runs, or about one every 13 innings, leaving him with a shiny 2.44 ERA. Yet, for as good as Fernandez's season was, if he qualified he wouldn't lead the Marlins rotation in ERA—that honor would go instead to Henderson Alvarez and his 2.43 mark.
Alvarez, who returned on Saturday after missing two weeks with shoulder inflammation, has turned his career around following his trade to the Marlins the winter before last. Since then, he ranks 12th in ERA+ and 28th in FIP among pitchers with at least 200 innings. Alvarez isn't better than Fernandez—everyone knows that—but he's easy to overlook due to an unusual profile. Compared to other starters, Alvarez has one of the worst strikeout rates, best groundball rates, and quickest fastballs around. He is, in a sense, the ideal Twins pitcher, except with the ideal Marlins pitcher velocity.
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