Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Adbert Alzolay Update Might Actually Be Good News for Cubs

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Yeah, it is strange to think about a pitcher being injured becoming good news, but that’s how you should feel after tests revealed that Cubs reliever Adbert Alzolay has a right flexor strain. The right-hander was placed on the 15-day injured list following his save on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates and he’ll be shut down for a bit.

A year ago, Alzolay was beginning to establish himself as a trusted option in high-leverage situations out of the bullpen before ultimately becoming the team’s closer and being a pretty good one during the summer. Alzolay entered the 2024 season as one of the few known commodities in the Cubs bullpen, but it’s been a nightmare for the righty. Alzolay lost the closer role in April, but there’s now hope that his struggles are actually connected to an injury.

So yeah, I’ll take that as good news for Alzolay and the Cubs. I know that relievers can have wild swings in performance from year-to-year, but Alzolay had a solid track record heading into this season. He’s only 29-years-old, so it’s not like we’re talking about a pitcher who is on the decline, nearing the end of a career.

Alzolay has been good as a reliever during his career with the Cubs and he was a great one in 2023. Reading that Alzolay was pitching through some discomfort and is now going to miss time because of an arm injury gives me hope that Alzolay can eventually return healthy and hopefully get back to the pitcher he has been before this season.

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From 2019-23, Alzolay made 76 relief appearances with the Cubs, posting a 2.53 ERA in 106.2 innings. He recorded a 29 K% and was only walking 5.7% of the batters he faced, limiting the opposition to a .212 batting average and was giving up less than a home run per nine innings. Can’t say this enough, he was really good!

Prior to his IL stint this week, Alzolay had given up six home runs in 17.1 innings, while only striking out 17.3% of batters and walking 8% of them. There’s just no way Alzolay went from good to awful overnight without there being an injury and that’s what the Cubs found out.

It blows that this couldn’t be discovered sooner, but at least Alzolay can now reset mentally and physically, while having the knowledge that there was indeed something wrong with him instead of the alternative that he was simply bad.

Like Craig Counsell said earlier this season after Alzolay lost the closer role, the Cubs do need Alzolay this season and the hope will now be shifted to getting the healthy version of Alzolay later on in 2024.

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