Home News How Francisco Alvarez has made Mets’ pitching staff better

How Francisco Alvarez has made Mets’ pitching staff better

by admin

The Francisco Alvarez Effect has been real.

The Mets are 29-13 in games in which their precocious young catcher plays and 17-32 without him.

Sure, the upgrade with the bat — his .852 OPS began play Wednesday as third-best among catchers with at least 100 plate appearances — has been significant.

Francisco Alvarez shakes hand with Luis Severino after the right-hander exits the game in the seventh inning of the Mets’ 6-2 win over the Nationals on Wednesday night. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

But Alvarez’s influence on the pitching staff has been nearly as stark.

Consider the fact that with Alvarez squatting behind home plate, Mets pitchers brought a 3.25 ERA into the Mets’ 6-2 win over the Nationals at Citi Field.

The Mets’ team ERA entered play an entire run higher — 4.25 — and only four primary catchers in all of MLB brought better marks than Alvarez’s into play (Atlanta’s Sean Murphy at 2.55, Philadelphia’s J.T. Realmuto at 2.86, Boston’s Reese McGuire at 3.01 and Seattle’s Cal Raleigh at 3.25).

It is not just that the 22-year-old is growing into a star with his bat.

A second-year ball of energy has emerged as a defensive difference-maker in the most demanding position in the game while working with a predominantly veteran staff.

“Alvy is amazing,” Jose Quintana said after partnering with Alvarez during Tuesday’s win. “I love this kid.”

Quintana’s ERA when throwing to Alvarez: 1.76.

Jose Quintana has pitched much better since Francisco Alvarez’s return to the Mets lineup. Getty Images

Quintana’s ERA throwing to anyone else: 5.86.

He’s not alone. Sean Manaea’s ERA when throwing to Alvarez: 1.33. Manaea throwing to anyone else: 5.17.

Manaea pointed to Alvarez’s boisterous personality as a trait that separates him.

“He’s very outgoing and outspoken and kind of has those leadership qualities,” said Manaea, a nine-year veteran. “I know he’s very young, but you can sense that he’s just very confident in his work, and you see that in his [preparation].

“For me, from my perspective, there’s no reason not to trust him.”

Francisco Alvarez and Edwin Diaz celebrate after closing out the Mets’ win over the Nationals on Tuesday night. Corey Sipkin for the New York Post

Adrian Houser’s ERA with Alvarez: 2.50. Houser’s ERA with anyone else: 6.89.

It only took a couple spring training outings for the first-year Met to realize he would enjoy working with Alvarez who helped shepherd Luis Severino to a two-run outing in 6 ¹/₃ innings in Wednesday’s win.

“After getting to talk to him for a little bit, it was: ‘Hey, this is how I like to pitch, this is how I like to attack,’ ” Houser said of his early talks with Alvarez. “And after a couple outings, it was already pretty easy. ‘Hey, I liked how you threw that.’

“We got on the same page pretty quick.”

There have been no complaints about Alvarez’s prep work, knowledge of the pitchers he is catching and the opposing hitters.

But the most obvious quality in his defensive game is a demonstrative element to how he catches.

Especially in a big spot or when a pitcher is beginning to tire, it is as if Alvarez attempts to will his partner across the finish line.

He will dramatically wave his glove upward when he wants to encourage his pitcher to throw a pitch at the top of the zone.

He will tap the dirt in demanding typically a breaking ball gets bounced.

A staff with tiring arms and occasionally tiring energy has appreciated the boost from a catcher who doesn’t seem to run out of energy.

“He really wants you to execute this pitch,” Houser said. “I think that helps a lot. He’s really trying to work hard for that pitch.”

“When you see him, like, ‘get it up,’ ” Manaea said, “It kind of reiterates that fact, that we’re going fastball up. … Having that visual feedback can be helpful.

“And then when you throw a good pitch, and he gives you one of those [fist pumps].”

There are more tangible ways Alvarez helps his pitcher, including with a strong arm that sometimes can compensate for a staff that has had trouble holding runners on, and with a constant eye at the pitch clock.

Repeatedly over the past two seasons, Alvarez has traded a mound visit for a pitch-clock violation, bursting out of his squat and sprinting to the mound when he sees that his pitcher will not deliver the ball on time.

“He’s out there working the clock, for sure,” Manaea said.

Since Alvarez returned from his thumb injury on June 11, the Mets’ staff has returned to form, too.

“He’s always learning,” Houser said, “and he’s always wanting to learn more.”

Source Link

You may also like

Leave a Comment