You’ll have to wait a little longer for Adbert SZN, as the Cubs’ top pitching prospect will not be filling in for Kyle Hendricks on Thursday.
With Hendricks on the Injured List (shoulder inflammation), the Cubs are instead opting to give the start to Tyler Chatwood. Adbert Alzolay will continue to start at AAA Iowa, awaiting his shot to use up some of those currently-dominating bullets at the big league level. Soon enough, I reckon.
As for Chatwood, there is no denying that the 29-year-old righty looks fundamentally improved this year over last. It’s not just the better results he’s getting and not just the reduced walk rate – it’s something about the competitiveness of his at bats. He simply seems more locked in, is executing better, and doesn’t completely lose the zone at times. He also turned in an excellent fill-in start earlier this year against the Angels.
Also, Chatwood has been excellent at managing contact this year: his expected slugging, based on the quality of contact, is just .348, the 76th best mark in baseball.
As for why Chatwood instead of Mike Montgomery, who also fills in well as a starter? That might be as simple as the splits: whereas the Mets have rocked lefties this year (116 team wRC+), they’ve been slightly below average against righties (95 wRC+).