Astros: Yordan Alvarez continues to slump against this pitch

HOUSTON, TEXAS - MAY 25: Yordan Alvarez #44 of the Houston Astros reacts to striking out during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Minute Maid Park on May 25, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - MAY 25: Yordan Alvarez #44 of the Houston Astros reacts to striking out during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Minute Maid Park on May 25, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /
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The ballad of Yordan Alvarez is short but eventful. From a 2019 AL Rookie of the Year campaign to season ending knee surgery in 2020, the big left-hander hasn’t seen a full a season of major-league baseball yet. In part to his monstrous home runs and ability to tip pitches better than anyone in the game, the Houston Astros‘ designated hitter is struggling against a certain pitch as of late: the breaking ball.

While sitting out Sunday’s matchup after a “lost” series in Arlington, Alvarez made his way back to the lineup on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The game was rough; Astros’ pitchers were walking batters, and Clayton Kershaw was electric. Nothing more than that to speak upon, other than Alvarez going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.

In the midst of a recent slump, Yordan Alvarez isn’t seeing breaking pitches well.

From ripping long balls to fouling off to the perfect pitch, pitcher’s breaking ball usage against Alvarez has increased since his tear through the 2019 season. This slight increase from 27.6% to 28.3% has led to more strikeouts, but with pitchers throwing less fastballs (59.3% to 53.7%), the increase of offspeed (13.1% to 17.9%) could also be affecting the left-hander.

Baseball Savant is showing this breakdown of pitchers looking to breaking balls when ahead in counts with Alvarez, which is common among many major-leaguers. Some of his best hits come from the breaking ball, but against Clayton Kershaw’s slider, he wasn’t finding much. Three of his four strikeouts on Tuesday came either by a curveball or a slider, while a high fastball, out of the zone sat him down for the fourth time up.

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This recent slump isn’t something Alvarez has been accustomed to his short career thus far, and with a lot of baseball left, there is no reason to think this is the end of the world. The left-hander is hitting the ball hard but isn’t barreling like normal. Over 169 plate appearances, he is slashing .310/.343/.525, which are all above average numbers.

In his last seven games, Alvarez has only three hits over 26 at bats. This change in production comes from the pitch usage that many pitchers are rolling with. While fouling off nine of his 16 strikes he saw, almost all of these pitches were fastballs, and this is where Alvarez profits from; foul off until you get your pitch. With offensive production down against a pitch he profits on, the left-hander will have to find himself and diminish this funk with the Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres around the corner.

The Astros are back on the field on Wednesday at 6:40 p.m. looking to tie the series against Trevor Bauer with Luis Garcia on the mound. Around the farm, Jose Urquidy is expected to be designated for a rehab start with the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks on Wednesday.

Next. Valdez, Odorizzi and Taylor excelling in rehab stints. dark

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