Chicago Cubs: Delayed debut in ’19?
Trading Chatwood would require eating a chunk of his contract; Montgomery might just want a chance to start, whether that be in Chicago or somewhere else. If these two guys are on the 2019 Cubs, Alzolay likely will start the season in the minor leagues. He is probably headed there regardless to get back into the swing of things.
Like 2018, though, the Cubs could promote Alzolay early on if a starter gets hurt or if they need an extra arm for a doubleheader. Without such circumstances, it wouldn’t be surprising if his MLB debut is put on hold until late-summer.
Delaying Alzolay’s debut until July or August would give him plenty of time to get back into game shape. Odd circumstances aside, there is no use in rushing Alzolay to the big leagues if he is not ready.
Or an accelerated debut?
But what if Chatwood and/or Montgomery are not with the Cubs next season? What if Alzolay looks solid in Spring Training?
Without Chatwood, Montgomery, Smyly and the recently-departed Jesse Chavez, the Cubs would have no true swingman pitcher on their roster. They obviously are going to make moves in free agency/on the trade market, so this could change.
Even if the Cubs sign or acquire such a pitcher, Alzolay looking ready to go in Spring Training could change the team’s outlook. For that reason, it wouldn’t be surprising if he makes the Opening Day roster as that swingman guy.
There are a lot of hypotheticals in play here, none of which are too far-fetched. The bottom line is if Alzolay doesn’t look ready for the big leagues, there is no point in rushing his debut. But if he does look ready, his MLB debut might not be too far away.