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When will Jose Alvarado return to Phillies bullpen this season?

We’ve got the latest updates for Jose Alvarado and when he’ll return in 2023.

Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Jose Alvarado reacts after a strike out to end the game with a victory against the Seattle Mariners in the ninth inning at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jose Alvarado had been one of the breakout stars of this young MLB season, punching out 24 batters (without a single walk) over his first 14.1 innings while putting a stranglehold on the closer’s role for the Philadelphia Phillies. With a fastball that can touch 100 and a wicked mid-90s cutter, it seemed like the reigning NL champs had the back-end of their bullpen sorted out.

But the 2023 season is quickly teaching us to assume the worst no matter how minor an arm injury may initially appear, and sure enough, Alvarado’s dream season has been put on hold.

Jose Alvarado injury update

June 3 — Alvarado will begin a rehab assignment with Philadelphia’s Triple-A affiliate in Lehigh Valley on Saturday. If things go well, he could be about a week away from his big league return.

May 24 — Alvarado threw a flat ground on Monday and is expected to continue his rehab and throw a bullpen session on Wednesday. There are still more milestones to meet to be major league ready, but for now, Alvarado is projected to be sidelined until early June.

May 10 — Alvarado was a late scratch from Tuesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays with tightness in his wrist, but both he and the team assured everyone that it was no big deal — it was strictly a precautionary measure, and Alvarado planned to pitch on Wednesday if needed.

But Phillies sent the lefty for an MRI just in case, and that MRI showed inflammation in his throwing elbow:

There’s not yet a timetable for Alvarado’s return, although manager Rob Thomson admitted to reporters that he was “a little concerned”. Hopefully it just requires a couple weeks of rest, but either way the lefty looks to be out for at least the rest of the month. Some combination of Seranthony Dominguez and Craig Kimbrel are likely to handle save chances in the meantime, although the rest of Philly’s bullpen has been a bit erratic so far this year.