Rays happy to have southpaw Alvarado in 'pen

Fireballer bypassed Triple-A, posted 3.68 ERA in first seven games

Rays happy to have southpaw Alvarado in 'pen

CLEVELAND -- Jose Alvarado hasn't been with the Rays long, but he's already making a big impression with his strong left arm.

Tampa Bay recalled Alvarado from Double-A Montgomery on May 3. Entering Wednesday's series finale against the Indians, he was 0-0 with a 3.68 ERA in seven games, including a two-inning stint on Tuesday night in which he retired all six batters he faced in the seventh and eighth innings. That effectively bridged the gap to closer Alex Colome, who got the final three outs of the Rays' 6-4 win.

"We could've made a decision to go to somebody else there, obviously, but he was so good in the seventh, and then [pitching coach Jim Hickey] and I discussed the situation," manager Kevin Cash said. "... He just kept pumping strikes and getting outs, and it didn't make too much sense to pull him out of the game the way he was attacking the zone."

Cash on win over the Indians

Calling Alvarado to The Show was unusual, since he had not pitched at the Triple-A level and he's just 21.

However, Cash said, "He doesn't act like a 21-year-old. There's no panic. He fell behind 2-0 to [Jason] Kipnis [Tuesday night], and he got right back in the zone. You don't see a lot of guys come from Double-A or be 21 years old and kind of be able to hone in on the strike zone like he shows us he's able to do."

According to Statcast™, Alvarado's average fastball velocity is 97.8 mph.

"We knew he had the power," Cash said. "We knew he had a good breaking ball. We didn't know what the strike-throwing would be. He's really done a tremendous job throwing a lot of them."

Having velocity at the back end of the bullpen can compensate for other things that a pitcher might be missing, to a certain extent.

"At times, [velocity] can," Cash said. "You're asking hitters to recognize 97-98 mph, which is not an easy thing to do. You still have to go out and make pitches, because these hitters are really good. That helps having the velocity."

Cash acknowledged that bringing up Alvarado went against the norm for the Rays.

"There was kind of a need with injuries," Cash said. "... With Jose, it's very unique for the organization to [bring him up so early]. As of right now, we're all happy that they did."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.