The Rays have added left-hander Jose Alvarado to their roster for the ALCS, activating the southpaw from the 45-day injured list, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (Twitter link). To create roster space, right-hander Oliver Drake was designated for assignment.
Alvarado last pitched on August 14, as inflammation in his throwing shoulder ended up sidelining the lefty for much of the season. Alvarado only pitched nine innings over nine games for Tampa Bay, posting a 6.00 ERA and recording 13 strikeouts against six walks. It marked the second straight abbreviated year for Alvarado, who was limited to 30 innings in 2019 due to injuries and an absence for family reasons.
Clearly, however, the Rays feel comfortable that Alvarado is now ready and able to contribute in their quest for the American League pennant. When healthy in 2018, Alvarado was a dominant force in Tampa’s bullpen, posting a 2.39 ERA, 11.3 K/9, and 2.76 K/BB rate over 64 innings. Alvarado dominated both right-handed and left-handed batters that season, but he has some far more drastic splits in 2019-20. Though the idea of a lefty specialist has been somewhat mitigated by the new three-batter rule, the Rays could perhaps try as best they can to position Alvarado against only left-handed bats.
Drake suffered a right flexor tendon strain during the ALDS that led to his removal from the active roster, and he could now be left off Tampa’s roster entirely depending on his trip through DFA limbo. Drake posted a 5.73 ERA, 1.17 K/BB rate, and 5.7 K/9 over 11 innings this season, and since he is eligible for his second trip through arbitration this winter, the designation could be the Rays’ way of getting a planned non-tender out of the way early. In 2019, Drake was a very effective reliever for the Rays, with a 3.21 ERA, 11.3 K/9, 52.3% grounder rate, and 3.68 K/BB rate over 56 innings.