Cubs right-hander Adbert Alzolay could prove to be a difference-maker in 2021.
The Chicago Cubs have a lot of questions that need answering when it comes to the pitching staff. Tyler Chatwood, Jose Quintana and Jon Lester are all free agents, with only Lester looking like a possibility to potentially return. Regardless, the team needs stability in the rotation – and Adbert Alzolay could be the guy to provide that moving forward.
MLB.com named Alzolay as the Cubs’ top Rookie of the Year candidate heading into next year. It’s not hard to see why if you look at what he accomplished this season. His 33.3 percent strikeout rate ranked in the top eight percent of the league and the .284 XSLG was among the top five percent.
More from Cubbies Crib
- Cubs should keep close eye on non-tender candidate Cody Bellinger
- Cubs starting pitching has been thriving on the North Side
- Make no mistake: the Cubs are very much about power hitters
- Cubs are giving pitcher Javier Assad a deserved shot
- Cubs: It’s time to start thinking about potential September call-ups
He overcame a high walk rate by keeping the ball in the ballpark and limiting hard contact. His efforts bore out in a 2.95 ERA/3.05 FIP across four starts and a pair of relief appearances. His WHIP, which was respectable at 1.172 was wildly inflated by his command issues. I mean, the guy gave up just over five hits per nine. Not bad for a 25-year-old with a dozen big league innings to his name heading into the year.
Now comes the real test. Come 2021, teams will have their scouting reports ready for Alzolay – especially within the division. They’ll know how to attack his fastball and read his slider, which was an absolutely filthy pitch in his arsenal.
If Alzolay can step into that number three spot behind Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks – or even just round out the rotation at the back end as a guy with plus-stuff who’s still working through some things – the offseason gets a lot more palatable for Theo Epstein, who’ll be working with a shoestring budget.
I suspect we’re going to be talking about either a lot of guys who are nearing the end of their respective careers or are coming off an injury when it comes to filling out the pitching staff. Guys like J.A. Happ and former Cubs Jeff Samardzija and Cole Hamels could all be on the Cubs’ radar in the weeks and months to come.
It’s anybody’s guess what the next year will bring (I mean, look at everything that came our way in 2020). But Alzolay certainly has the stuff to succeed and he showed us this year that he’s ready to take that next step and become an integral part of the team’s future.