Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Cubs Have a Massive Problem


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He’s been good in the past, I think he’ll be all right later this season, but the Chicago Cubs have a massive problem because Adbert Alzolay is just not the guy to be the closer for this team. He just blew his fourth save of the season as teams continue to hammer Alzolay’s mistakes.

The Cubs lost the front-end of Saturday’s double header against the Miami Marlins 3-2 after Alzolay gave up a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning to right-handed hitter Bryan De La Cruz. Alzolay has now surrendered 4 home runs in 10 innings pitched so far in 2024. Last year, Alzolay only gave up 5 home runs in 64 innings.

It’s been a struggle since the start of the season and yeah Alzolay’s current home run rate is going to normalize, but you can’t ignore the fact that the right-handed reliever is simply not a dominant presence for the Cubs right now in high-leverage situations.

Alzolay has only worked two clean innings so far this season and both came when the Cubs had a four-run lead in the ninth. While he has recorded three saves, Alzolay has had to work hard to get them. If you look back at Alzolay’s first save of the year against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Michael Busch had to make a game-saving diving catch to bail out his pitcher in the ninth after Alzolay gave up a pair of hits with a 9-7 lead.

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Craig Counsell has shown a lot of confidence in Alzolay, bringing him in to big spots before the ninth inning, but the righty has not delivered. Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a go-ahead two-run homer in San Diego that capped the Cubs 8-0 blown lead and then on Saturday Alzolay walked the first batter he faced with two outs and two on in the eighth inning. Alzolay escaped the bases-loaded jam only to lose the game in ninth inning.

The bigger issue isn’t just that Alzolay has been blowing games it’s that the Cubs do not have a clear answer as the next man up to be the closer. You go with Hector Neris? The veteran does have closer experience, but he’s looked bad early on in April. The most obvious choice is probably Mark Leiter Jr., but even as dominant as he’s been, that mainly stems from his success against left-handed hitters.

I bet Counsell is thinking how easy it was in Milwaukee with Josh Hader and then Devin Williams compared to how it’s going so far with the Cubs.


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Apr 22, 2024 4:58 am

If it wasn’t for a couple of dazzling defensive plays, you could add a two more blown saves to the list. The other elephant in the room is what do you do with Hendrix.

Apr 21, 2024 5:48 am

The problem is the closer role is just too important. You need a high-energy guy to match the intensity of the lineup coming to bat. They are more motivated. It’s their last chance to avoid failure. The closer needs to have the same mindset and the stuff to back it up. This is what happens when a decent pitcher is pitted against a guy who has nothing to lose. Ketel Marte makes everyone look bad and, personally, I hate seeing him when the pressure is on. He’s just locked in. That’s what the best closer’s had and separates them. Stone-cold… Read more »

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