It looks like Adbert Alzolay will have a chance to start full-time for the Cubs.
It’s been about two weeks since the Chicago Cubs traded Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini to the Padres. Starting pitcher Zach Davies is one of the players coming to Chicago, but the rotation could still use another arm or two. Whether or not Jed Hoyer brings in a starting pitcher from the outside remains to be seen, but there is one pitcher who could be ready to make a jump into the rotation permanently: Adbert Alzolay.
The Cubs haven’t developed many starting pitchers from start to finish in the Theo Epstein-era. Kyle Hendricks comes to mind but he was acquired in a trade from Texas, not homegrown. Before him, the last pitching prospects from the farm who had big league success with the Cubs would be Mark Prior and Carlos Zambrano. So yeah, you can say it’s been awhile.
Currently listed at No. 5 on the Cubs’ top prospect list, Alzolay was signed out of Venezuela as an amateur free agent in 2012. Now 25 years old, the right-hander has pitched in ten games combined over the last two seasons.
Alzolay Career Statistics:
- 2019: (4 games, 2 starts) (1-1, 7.30 ERA) 12.1 IP 1.784 WHIP 9.7 K/9
- 2020: (6 games, 4 starts) (1-1, 2.95 ERA) 21.1 IP 1.172 WHIP 12.4 K/9
Is this enough to claim a spot in the starting rotation?
Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood are currently free agents, and it remains to be seen if the Cubs will bring back Jon Lester.
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Right now, the three active starting pitchers who are likely to earn a spot in the rotation are Hendricks, Davies and Alec Mills. This leaves the final two spots open for a free agent signing, or the current candidates will compete amongst one another in Spring Training. Tyson Miller and Brailyn Marquez are amongst the players who could put their names in the mix.
Even with the competition of the current young arms, Alzolay still has the upper hand from what he’s shown so far in a small sample size. I think whether or not manager David Ross puts Alzolay in the rotation permanently depends on how serious the Cubs are about contending in 2021.
As painful as it is to say, it doesn’t look like the Hoyer considers this team to be World Series bound this season. Now that can all change with a few meaningful additions and the competition in the NL Central, but as of today, it doesn’t appear Hoyer feels that way on paper. If this is the case, that means there is plenty of time for Alzolay to develop as a starter and go through the ups and downs he might endure in a full big league season.
This is something that would not have happened the last two seasons because the Cubs didn’t have the time to wait and see if Alzolay would work out as a permanent starter for a full season. Again, it remains to be seen, but some new additions could change the decision to keep Alzolay in the rotation.
As it stands now, I think it is a safe bet to assume Alzolay will be a fourth or fifth option for the Cubs in 2021.