We knew it was not going to be good based on the way Jed Hoyer discussed it yesterday, but we didn’t know exactly how not good Adbert Alzolay’s shoulder injury was.
It’s not a worst-case scenario – that would be a structural issue requiring surgery – but it’s definitely pretty bad:
Cubs pitcher Adbert Alzolay told me he will miss upwards of two months with his strained right Lat ( top of shoulder) He said it was the same injury he sustained in 2018.
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) March 15, 2022
Upwards of two months is probably being generous if it’s actually the same injury as in 2018. The previous lat injury was a particularly bad one, too, as it limited Alzolay to just 40 innings in 2018. Alzolay felt the injury in his final start in May, and that ended his season. And now this is the second time for the same injury.
We don’t know exactly where he is on his recovery timeline this year relative to that one, but it’s safe to assume the injury happened pretty recently because he was sharing bullpen videos near the end of the lockout. If that’s the case, and if it’s as bad as last time (but is a second time, so the Cubs are going to be even more cautious), you’re talking about *maybe* a midseason return. And then you have to wonder if his effectiveness has been impacted.
Man that sucks so much for a guy who could be so important to the Cubs’ pitching success in the near and medium-term. You also now wonder if this will take starting off the table for him (this season, at least).
Seems likely that Alzolay will go on the 60-day IL as soon as that becomes available (usually a week or so before the regular season starts, but I honestly have no idea this year), which would give the Cubs some extra 40-man flexibility, since a guy on the 60-day IL doesn’t count against the 40-man roster limit. We know Codi Heuer will also go on the 60-day (Tommy John surgery), and it’s possible David Bote will as well (ankle surgery). That’s a lot of extra 40-man flexibility that would pop up at the same time the Cubs (1) could be making waiver claims, and (2) would have to add minor league deal guys to the 40-man if they make the Opening Day roster (i.e., a Jesse Chavez type).