The Chicago Cubs are a tough team to get a read on. They’ve gone through stretches where it’s looked like they’d finally turned a corner but then just as often, and typically without any rhyme or reason, made it seem as though the season could be spiraling out of control.
Inconsistency has hardly been just a collective team issue either, as players such as Zach Davies or Joc Pederson, who both looked completely lost, have really hit their strides as of late, while players such as Trevor Williams or Willson Contreras have floundered after early-season success.
Another player that hasn’t found any consistency just yet is Adbert Alzolay. After seeming destined for a stint in Iowa to start the year, the Cubs surprisingly decided to keep the homegrown right-hander up, and even gave him the vote of confidence to start as well. Results thus far, however, have been mixed.
On one hand, Alzolay has been a great strikeout pitcher, something the Cubs have really lacked in the rotation. His pitches still look downright nasty and there’s no reason to believe that Alzolay shouldn’t continue to be a strikeout artist going forward. Though the right-hander has been up-and-down to this point, his penchant for strikeouts is certainly something to be encouraged by.
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Currently, the biggest issue facing Alzolay is whether or not he can get soft contact. While it can sometimes be difficult for batters to touch Alzolay’s stuff when they do it gets destroyed. According to Baseball Savant, Alzolay is in just the 28th percentile for average exit velocity and the 19th percentile for hard-hit percentage. This is something the young hurler has to work on improving as the long ball has been a killer for him in some starts.
Alzolay has been very good at avoiding giving out free passes so far in 2021. Even with the high strikeout rate he has, he’s done a good job of keeping the walks down, as his season-high for 2021 is just two. This could be a contributing factor to his hard-hit ball problem, however, as he may be giving hitters too many good pitches to hit. This is not in any way an endorsement for Alzolay to nibble, as that creates a whole nother world of problems, but it would behoove the Cubs and Alzolay to be a bit more careful in the zone.
Alzolay has been inconsistent from start to start this season, oftentimes even inning to inning, but his last few starts may be an indication that he may be on the upswing, and could be very successful going forward. Over his last three starts, Alzolay is sporting an ERA of 3.71, along with 19 strikeouts over 17 innings of work. These are very solid numbers, and if he can get his contact issue under control, he has a chance to be one of the better players on the roster.
While Adbert Alzolay has had a rollercoaster of a season so far, he’s not even close to the only player on the Cubs that’s had his inconsistencies. This kid has the potential to be a piece for the Cubs going into the future and the team would be wise to stick with him as he irons out all of the kinks from early in the year. Alzolay appears to be on the right track towards breaking out of his inconsistent funk, and the Cubs will be much better in the long haul when he does so.