Adbert Alzolay's Hamstring and the Cubs Rotation Mess

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Adbert Alzolay’s Hamstring and the Cubs Rotation Mess

Chicago Cubs
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I guess the Cubs better hurry up and bring back Jake Arrieta!


Obviously I kid, but it’s kinda crazy that, within the span of just a couple days, the Cubs went from a six-man rotation to maybe a four-man rotation. Arrieta has been released, and last night, Adbert Alzolay left in the second inning, indicating something was off with his left leg.

The Cubs later described it as hamstring tightness – notably, Alzolay had just run the bases, including a hustle double – and David Ross indicated after the game that he didn’t know the extent of the injury. Catcher Robinson Chirinos suggested Alzolay was pitching through pain or discomfort for that whole second inning.

It’s conceivable, even if the injury isn’t too serious, that the Cubs opt to shut down Alzolay from here. He’s already topped 100 innings for the first time in four years, and he’s coming off the big innings jump from the shortened 2020 season (and has also dealt with injury issues in the past). You want him to get the experience, but you always want to protect against long-term injury or erosion of ability. It’s possible that the Cubs and Alzolay will decide they’ve got enough in for this year, and will use the things they’ve learned to work this offseason. Either way, I think we can still safely assume Alzolay is going to be a part of the Cubs’ rotation in 2022, at least for a little while to give him a shot to re-establish himself.

As for what the Cubs do with the rotation going forward, assuming Alzolay is out, that’s a big open question. It’s Kyle Hendricks, Zach Davies, Justin Steele, Alec Mills, and then who knows.

We know Keegan Thompson is coming at some point, but he might not be stretched out enough quite yet. We know the Cubs also have Cory Abbott on the 40-man, though it’s been a really rough year for him at both Triple-A and in MLB. The Cubs could just give one or more of the Triple-A starters – Mike Hauschild or Joe Biagini, for example – a look down the stretch. The Cubs could pick up someone like Aaron Sanchez, who was just released by the Giants.

Some of that is going to be necessary in any case, because the Cubs were already wanting to lighten the load down the stretch for a guy like Kyle Hendricks by going to the six-man rotation. There is absolutely no sense in running him into the ground over the next month and a half.

That is all to say, I expect a whole lot of rotation shuffling, fringy new guys in and out, and maybe even bullpen days. You have to cover the innings somehow, and since maxing out on wins won’t be the priority (sorry), the Cubs will at least try to get some information out of it (without bringing up anyone onto the 40-man roster that they don’t have to, and don’t want to risk later losing to waivers).

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.