Adbert Alzolay stepped up to lead the Cubs to the sweep over the Padres yesterday, allowing just one run on three hits and one walk over five innings, while striking out seven.
By Game Score, it was tied for his best outing of the year (two starts ago in St. Louis), and continued a streak of three straight excellent outings by the results (all 62+ in Game Score). He’s still being protected quite a bit – pulled at 83 pitches and just twice through the order – but he’s young and developing! It’s a completely appropriate long-term strategy, and hey, obviously the Cubs right now have the bullpen available to make it work.
Adbert freaking Alzolay, man. Not only does he step up with the performances like yesterday, but he also has the coconuts to say things like this after the game:
Adbert Alzolay believes that the Chicago Cubs are the best team in the division. 🔥 @adbert29
— Cubs Zone (@CubsZone) June 2, 2021
As of this moment, Alzolay is not wrong. This does appear to be the best team in the NL Central, winning despite so many injuries, improving in so many facets, and getting strong performances out of their weakest unit (aka, Alzolay dominating in an up-and-down Cubs rotation). I just love when a guy pumps up his team and his teammates, and backs up his words with huge performances.
And that all makes you a believer, at least inside the clubhouse:
"If you see this whole team all the way around, you'll see that we have the whole talent to compete, to win another World Series for this city. I think that's the mindset right now."
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 2, 2021
You can presume that if the Cubs remain in competition this year – in a position to maybe let us start dreaming on another World Series – Alzolay will be a huge part of it. If he can just stay healthy and this productive, that would be enormous. If he keeps developing in-season? Watch out.
After the good performances with inflated earned run results early in the season, Alzolay’s ERA is now down to something that sounds more reflective of his performance, at 3.62 (9% better than league average). And after those first three starts against the Brewers, it’s just 2.95. For context, there are just 20 starting pitchers in baseball this year with an ERA better than 2.95, so that gives you a sense of the range Alzolay has been pitching in for the last month and a half.