Cubs: 3 storylines to watch as pitchers and catchers report

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Chicago Cubs
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Cubs: Will Adbert Alzolay start or come out of the bullpen?

One of the key figures to watch as the Cubs begin this transitory period is right-hander Adbert Alzolay.

The 25-year-old showed promising stuff in 2020, posting a 2.95 ERA and 3.05 FIP in 21.1 innings. Alzolay struck out 12.2 opponents per nine innings, and opponents hit just .028 against his slider. His velocity and breaking stuff project well, especially with a changeup that is especially effective against left-handed hitters.

However, it is unknown whether Alozlay will be in the rotation or the bullpen to start the season.

Conventional wisdom would suggest Alzolay gets a rotation spot, even after the Cubs signed Williams and Arrieta. It seems more likely Chicago sends Alec Mills back to the bullpen, given some of the team’s needs in the middle innings. Plus, the Cubs want to give Alzolay the chance to extend himself and throw more innings if he is to be a future rotation staple.

That said, there is a chance manager David Ross uses Alzolay in a similar capacity to Los Angeles Dodgers arms like Dustin May or Julio Urias, both of whom are capable of starting or throwing multiple innings out of the bullpen.