The greatest stretch in James Mungro Memorial Award history — if not all of Detroit sports history — came to a whimpering end on Friday. Four days after what would be his final start, Jose Alvarez got sent to Triple-A.
It looked inevitable. Anibal Sanchez had to come off the disabled list eventually. But in at least a small way, Alvarez did this to himself. Since that near no-hitter against the Indians, he’s been all downhill: an 8.31 ERA in his last two starts, a final outing that stretched just three painful innings, a K/BB ratio that’s trending towards one. I mean, Jose Reyes hit a ball off of Alvarez that almost went out of a domed stadium. (It has a retractable roof.)
There are two explanations for his most recent struggles. Either this hometown of Barcelona, Venezuela is fake and Alvarez, as a closet Canadian, wanted to ensure the Blue Jays a win on Canada Day (this is the International Pitcher of Mystery we’re talking about), or Alvarez isn’t that good.
Whatever the case, he couldn’t be the transcendent figure he was expected to be. He couldn’t come out on the other side, go from a star on the internet to a star in real life.
We can’t blame him. It happens to just about every internet sensation. Think about it. What ever happened to that guy who did the thing? Exactly.
Still, Alvarez is the most successful JMMA winner ever. He’s gone from the outskirts of baseball to the outskirts of the major leagues. In four big league starts he pitched 19.2 innings, recorded 17 strikeouts, walked seven, and held a 5.03 ERA. That type of success nears the level of the great James Mungro himself.
Alvarez will go back to a Triple-A, back to leaving hitters crying in their own blood, and probably get another chance, if not with the Tigers than somewhere else. As he does so, he’ll always have those five hitless innings and those seven strikeouts. He’ll always know the feeling of being on the brink of achieving something truly awesome. He’ll always have those bushy eyebrows too. I get the sense those other things mean more, though.
Moving on to our favorite 34-year-old minor league pitcher, Chris Bootcheck, WE F#$%ING DID IT AGAIN!
Well, kind of.
Despite his hiatus to the Yankees during the prime evaluation period, Bootcheck is back in the Triple-A All-Star game. He made the game as a reserve, so technically we didn’t have much to do with it, but you should know by now a victory for Bootcheck is a victory for the world.
I expected big things from Bootcheck’s Twitter in reaction to the news, but The Champ has been silent since June 29, when he got a little hashtag happy while tweeting about a YouTube video.
— CHRIS BOOTCHECK (@RHPBOOTCHECK) June 30, 2013
(Obviously I tried to find the video, but couldn’t Could Bootcheck have provided a link? Yeah, but that’s not how he conducts his business.)
Old RHP must be too busy playing with A-Rod and dominating the International League slightly less than he used to be to tweet about the recognition he received from his merciless slaughtering of hitters.
After a one-game stint as a reliever, Bootcheck returned to starting and racked up two wins in two starts, pitching a combined 11 innings and allowing five earned runs. That may not be the greatest line, but Bootcheck has other things to prepare for.
Do you really expect him to waste his best stuff on the Syracuse Chiefs and the Pawtucket Red Sox when the world is going to be watching him in Reno?