Fantasy baseball: Philadelphia's bullpen has been a pleasant surprise

Jose Alvarado of the Philadelphia Phillies has made some huge strides in 2023. Getty Images

Philadelphia Phillies LHP Jose Alvarado was so erratic last May that the organization demoted him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley for a few weeks. Alvarado always had intriguing stuff, but he could not command it and often had little idea where it was going. Fantasy baseball managers wanted no part of Alvarado, of course. In a crowded Philadelphia bullpen that includes potential Hall of Famer Craig Kimbrel, who is approaching 400 career saves, few in ESPN standard leagues invested in Alvarado for this season.

Today, Alvarado is arguably the best relief pitcher in the sport. He ranks fifth among closers on ESPN's Player Rater (roto) and third in points formats, entering this May as a truly dominant pitcher having permitted just one earned run over 12⅓ innings. The erratic guy who issued 47 walks over 55⅔ innings in 2021 has issued nary a free pass, and he has struck out 55.8% of hitters he has faced. He has saves in five of his last six appearances.