Last week, the Miami Marlins’ Henderson Alvarez completed his second shutout of the year and third in his previous eight starts, dating to 2013. These recent performances have reduced his ERA to 2.62, despite featuring an unimpressive 15.7% strikeout rate. The secret to Alvarez’s success is his two-seam fastball, which has already accumulated 2.2 Runs Above Average in 2014.
The pitch has established Alvarez as a ground-ball enthusiast (54 percent GB rate) and has kept the baseball in the ballpark (0.60 HR/9), two elements that allow him to go deep into ball games and maintain a low pitch count.
To further emphasize the effectiveness of Alvarez’s two-seamer, here it is in slow motion as he struck out Mets’ Curtis Granderson to lead off the seventh inning:
To sweeten the experience, it’s important to note that this fastball was thrown as a 3-2 pitch to Granderson. Only a few centimeters determined the fate of the entire at-bat and this two-seamer had just enough movement to get the backwards K — an absolutely stunning K at that.
Alvarez displayed great command on Tuesday evening and exhibited why he is a major reason for the Marlins’ hot start to the season. If he can continue to manipulate his two-seam fastball at a high level, there’s little stopping Alvarez from a standout 2014 campaign.