Alvarez has surrendered at least one home run in all but two of his 13 starts this season. That's a high number for any pitcher, but especially for one whose best pitch is a sinker and who heavily relies on getting ground-ball outs to be effective.
Some of those home runs have come off the sinking fastball, which hasn't had the typical downward movement the Blue Jays became accustomed to seeing last season and during the first month of 2012.
- 142 wins
- 110 wins
"Little bit of overthrowing," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "We've seen in games where he comes out very strong in the first inning, where you see the velocity in the mid-to-upper 90s, he'll throw right through his sink.
"But then, when he attempts to overthrow a fastball in key spots, the front side will fly open and the ball ends up moving laterally rather than north and south."
The Blue Jays are considering making an adjustment to where Alvarez sets up on the mound. Alvarez currently positions himself on the first-base side of the rubber, but the club is contemplating a switch to the other side in order to change the angle to the strike zone and create the need for more extension on his pitches.
Alvarez has lost four consecutive decisions and hasn't earned a victory since May 10 at Minnesota. The native of Venezuela also has surrendered at least four runs in four of his past five starts, but despite the recent woes, Alvarez still possesses a respectable 3.87 ERA in 63 2/3 innings.
"I can't say that he's lost total control of games, because in the big picture, he's on pace to throw 200 innings, with a sub-4.00 ERA, and not bad," Farrell said. "But the thing that we're seeing is the home runs that are much different than a year ago, and the strikeout totals have come down from where they were a year ago.
"Part of that is he's more known in the league. Anytime that greater amount of information is available, you have to be that much more consistent with your execution. He's a [darn] good pitcher, and we've got to get it back on track to be a little bit more consistent with the location."