It took some time to confirm because of a comebacker off the forearm a few days ago, but it’s happening: Cubs pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay is coming up.
Alzolay, 25, will start Game Two of today’s doubleheader against the Cardinals, and will be the 29th man for the day. The young righty got a cup last year, showing that he clearly has big league pitches in his arsenal, but not yet putting it all together. I cannot wait to see what he looks like after the work over the last year and what he’s done at South Bend.
We got a very brief look at a new and improved curveball, which was flashing elite spin and increased velocity from last year. If the changeup continues the huge improvement it showed last year, then you’re talking about three very big-league-capable pitches in his arsenal (good velo and life on the four-seamer, nasty movement on the curveball, and great fade on the changeup).
Alzolay is in his final option year, so it behooves the Cubs to find out this year, if at all possible, what role he could best help the Cubs going into 2021. There will be rotation spots to win, and obviously Alzolay’s highest and best value is as a starter. But it’s also possible that he winds up seeing time in the bullpen. The fact that he was not kept at big league Summer Camp, though, tells me the Cubs believed he wasn’t ready to contribute out of the pen this year and/or they really wanted to see him keep honing his craft as a starter. I really hope we get a sense of what’s what from watching him today (not, like, how *ready* he is, but more about what he’s been working on).
With Tyler Chatwood out for an undetermined time, and with Jose Quintana’s return still something of a question mark, it isn’t absolutely bonkers to suggest that an Alzolay who flashes readiness today might get another look next week. It’s a fill-in start, to be sure, and you’d gladly take just three effective innings. But I’m just saying, Alzolay has huge upside. I think we can fairly be open to wider possibilities.