With a doubleheader coming on Saturday, the Cubs will be permitted a 26th man, which is highly likely to be used on a AAA starting pitcher to come up and take the ball in one of the two games.
Given that the Cubs have a relative bevy of young starting pitchers at AAA already on the 40-man roster, there were a number of plausible options. That said, the guy that most of us want to see is Adbert Alzolay, one of the clear top prospects in the system. And, after a shuffling of the Iowa Cubs rotation – plus a rain out – he started today, which would line him precisely up to start next … on Saturday.
Sure enough, signals are that he’s going to be the guy coming up:
— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) May 14, 2018
Alzolay, 23, had flashed good stuff for a number of years in the Cubs’ system, but didn’t really break out in terms of performance until last season, when he was excellent for most of the year at High-A, and then got seven good starts in at AA to finish the year. The Cubs then challenged him with an assignment to AAA to start this season (after a little time in extended Spring Training with an ankle injury), and he responded with a sub-3 ERA.
… well, until today, when he gave up five earned in just 4.2 innings of work. Looking ahead, perhaps? Let’s hope so.
If Alzolay starts for the Cubs on Saturday, it would be just a one-game thing for now, and he’d face a Reds team that has been absolutely woeful (85 wRC+) against righties this year. Not a bad first opportunity for the youngster.
We will await official confirmation from the Cubs. Today’s other Iowa Cubs starter (they had a doubleheader) was Jen-Ho Tseng, who started the last fill-in game for the Cubs with mixed results.
Top image via Dylan Heuer