Cubs Injury Update: Alzolay’s Second Opinion, Wicks Takes a Big Step, Smyly, Palencia, More

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She’s obviously not the only one out there on the beat, but Meghan Montemurro (Chicago Tribune) has been all over the Cubs (many) injury updates this season. And for that, we thank her greatly! Among her latest updates is a mix of good and bad news. Let’s start with the (seemingly) bad.

Adbert Alzolay is apparently getting a second opinion on his right flexor strain. Of course, that isn’t, of itself, a bad sign, but I don’t think you can say it’s a good thing. A second opinion is USUALLY requested after some other bad news was received and/or if things aren’t progressing normally. In other words, if he was already feeling better and healing up just fine, this probably wouldn’t be necessary. And I hate to remind you how forearm injuries often precede much more serious problems.

Of course that’s not ALWAYS true. And that leads us to our second injury update today, this time a positive one on Jordan Wicks.

According to Montemurro, Wicks (who was also out with a forearm strain) threw a bullpen today and it apparently went well. And with that, his next step will be to head out on a rehab assignment! That’s great news. If he makes his next start late this week, and looks to get just two games under his belt before returning to Chicago, we might be just about two weeks out from a return, maybe less. That’s really great news.

Although Wicks’ results didn’t look that strong this season (4.70 ERA), his underlying metrics were a lot stronger (4.00 xERA, 3.28 FIP). He was even throwing harder than ever and getting more movement on his pitches – which, yeah, maybe that led to the injury. Who knows. But he really seemed to be stepping up his game and I can’t wait to put him right back in the rotation.

With Kyle Hendricks having been relegated to the bullpen, the Cubs starting five, at full strength, is pretty great: Justin Steele, Shota Imanaga, Jameson Taillon, Javier Assad, and Jordan Wicks.

That would also allow the Cubs to keep Hayden Wesneski and Ben Brown in the bullpen permanently, where they can absolutely be a huge help. They’re basically there already, but they’re also often used as spot starters or long-men, especially with a vacant spot in the rotation.

In other healing pitcher news, Drew Smyly is starting his rehab assignment with South Bend. And you shouldn’t sleep on his potential impact. When Drew Smyly is healthy and in the bullpen, he’s absolutely a valuable part of this Cubs pitching staff, especially when he can go multiple innings (although, the Cubs are about to have a LOT of multi-inning pitchers in the pen if Wesneski, Brown, Hendricks, and Smyly all stay … Keegan Thompson is one too). That’s probably never going to be a problem all at the same time (injuries, options, maybe Brown becomes a true one-inning reliever, etc), but it’s worth mentioning.

And lastly, Daniel Palencia is pitching for Iowa today. His performance has obviously been more mixed and inconsistent, but when he’s on, he’s as nasty as any pitcher in the Cubs pen.

written by

Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

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