Steele and Alzolay Show Out, Who Gets the Saves, Smokies, Perlaza, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Steele and Alzolay Show Out, Who Gets the Saves, Smokies, Perlaza, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

So, my first fantasy football draft in over a decade has arrived, and I am completely f**ked. I follow the NFL, and I’ve looked over some lists, but I mean, I really have no clue how to actually build an effective roster anymore. It’s just been too long. The only thing I know for sure is that I should definitely draft Andy Dalton as my QB1, because the Bears are clearly convinced.

•   What a great night for Justin Steele AND Adbert Alzolay, who combined for the nine-inning shutout against the Twins (with Steele getting his first career “win” as a starting pitcher, and Alzolay his first career “save” (fine, fine, I’ll admit that it’s kinda neat)). Steele went fastball-heavy in the outing, inducing a lot of crap contact, and Alzolay came out firing bullets with a little extra zip in the relief role. I tentatively doubt that’ll become any kind of strict piggyback situation the rest of the way, but Alzolay is going to have to take an extra couple days off after throwing 40 pitches, so we’ll see.

•   On Alzolay, it turns out the plan was always to move him back into the bullpen after returning from the hammy injury, both because of innings limits, and also because the Cubs want to see what happens when he is able to be a little more aggressive and attack-oriented in shorter bursts (Sun-Times). According to Tommy Hottovy, it sounds like the thinking is less about showing what Alzolay could be as a multi-inning reliever (I think we already know), and more about seeing if maybe HE can learn some things from this period that he could then apply next year as a starter.

•   On Steele, it turns out a lot of his success last night was on the fly – he came out of his pre-game stuff feeling like the slider just wasn’t going to be there for him last night, so he knew he was going to have to adjust ( He and Austin Romine opted to go fastball-heavy, trying to play the four-seamer and the two-seamer off of each other, which clearly worked very well at generating some great contact (two thirds of the balls in play were on the ground).

•   David Ross on Steele’s night: “I thought the fastball looked electric, to be honest with you. I thought he mixed the four[-seamer] and the two[-seamer] well. Sometimes those pitches blend together. I thought tonight, there was real separation in the two[-seamer]. Looked like it was sinking hard. He sped some guys up with the four[-seamer], then sank them away the second time through. Some really good offspeed pitches mixed in there, but I thought the fastball played today just as electric as I’ve seen it.”

•   This is a fun thing, but it’s also notable because of how much Steele probably reminds you of Sean Marshall:

•   Marshall, like Steele, was a big lefty with strikeout stuff, who wasn’t quite able to be as efficient (with success) as you need to be to succeed as a starting pitcher. So, when he was in that role, we saw a lot of decent four and five-inning outings, but that was about the ceiling on the results side. The Cubs then moved Marshall into relief, and he was an absolutely dominant stud (eventually become a trade piece so valuable that it netted the Cubs Travis Wood, among others, in that trade with the Reds). We’ve seen that Steele could also dominate in relief, though we’re not yet to the point where that decision has to be made. Like I said in the EBS, I remain fascinated by HOW Steele is varying his approaches in starts to work on the efficiency.

•   The Cubs cannot mess this up now:

•   Great play last night by Patrick Wisdom and Alfonso Rivas, each showing off their defensive chops at the corner infield spots:

•   Frank Schwindel is just enjoying the shit out of his moment and I love him for it:

•   I really hope Tennessee can get back underway today after their COVID outbreak. Like I said, the health of the players and staff is the biggest thing, but it’s also fair to think it sucks that these players have lost a week+ of game action here at the end of the season.

•   Meanwhile, at South Bend, outfielder Yonathan Perlaza keeps on raking:

•   The last month and a half, Perlaza, 22, is hitting a whopping .345/.417/.612 with a 179 wRC+. You’d keep beating the drum for him to get the promotion to Double-A, but who knows when they’ll play again, or whether the regular starts are there (two of the outfield spots are locked up by Brennen Davis and Nelson Velazquez every day, and Christopher Morel makes a lot of his starts on the outfield, too). There’s also the slim chance that, as a Rule 5 eligible player, the Cubs don’t want to show him at Double-A quite yet, for fear that it’ll get him plucked (if they’re not ready to 40-man him, that is). I tend to think he wouldn’t get taken yet in any case, but just a thought. We’ll see if he gets a promotion before the season is up.

•   Back to Tennessee for a moment: their official roster current lists just nine pitchers and just eleven position players NOT on the Injured List. Some of those are injuries and some of them are COVID protocol issues, but either way, it’s a dang mess. Hey, maybe Perlaza will get the call to fill in for some of the guys who are out?

•   Laptops, toys, ring lights, and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad

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.