The Philadelphia Phillies have placed reliever José Alvarado on the injured list due to inflammation in his pitching elbow, the club announced Wednesday. In a corresponding move, right-handed reliever Andrew Bellatti has been called up from a minor-league rehab assignment, recovering from triceps tendinitis.
The focus here should be on Alvarado, though. The big lefty has been one of the best relievers in baseball this season. In his 14 1/3 innings, Alvarado has a 1.88 ERA, 0.88 FIP, 0.70 WHIP and 24 strikeouts against just one walk.
The Phillies -- who have dealt with significant injuries to several key players in the season after their NL pennant -- are a disappointing 17-19 to this point in the season. They've won two straight heading into Wednesday, but the Alvarado loss is a big blow to the bullpen.
The news sounds pretty alarming, too. He's already had an MRI and is seeing a doctor Wednesday.
"I'm a little concerned, for sure," manager Rob Thomson told reporters (via Matt Gelb).
Without Alvarado, it's possible the Phillies turn to Craig Kimbrel as a full-time closer, but he really shouldn't be one at this point in his career. In 15 outings this season, he has a 7.62 ERA and 1.62 WHIP with nine walks in 13 innings. Seranthony Domínguez and Gregory Soto have plenty of late-inning experience in their respective careers, but neither has been great this season.
Perhaps lefty Matt Strahm, who is moving to the bullpen after a successful stint as a starter, can provide some quality, meaningful innings. Righty Connor Brodgon has mostly been good this year, so maybe he'll take on more responsibility.
Let's also keep in mind that the best way to guard against a thin and potentially leaky bullpen is to get good starting pitching and southpaw Ranger Suárez is scheduled to come off the injured list Saturday for his 2023 debut.
Still, given the start to the season for Alvarado, elbow inflammation is a particularly concerning injury for the defending NL champs.