Cubs News: Adbert Alzolay is ready to become a star

(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

It wasn’t just Saturday night’s spectacular outing Adbert Alzolay didn’t deserve to lose. It’s not even the adjustments he made last year at the alternate site that yielded such positive results in the shortened 2020 season. The emergence of the young Chicago Cubs right-hander has been percolating for a long time.

If you’ve been listening to the commentators and anyone else around baseball this season, they are aware of how good Alzolay is and how good he could continue to become as he develops and is given more and more leash. Last night, it was John Smoltz and even Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty (in his brief half inning interview) who heaped praise on the 26-year-old Venezuelan, talking about how well he was pitching and how his stuff was incredible. And it was, oh it was.

With the exception of a couple sliced extra-base hits down the line and a hanging slider to Yadier Molina in the bottom of the seventh inning, Alzolay was in complete control against the Cardinals last night. Unfortunately, that didn’t translate to a win for the Cubs, but that’s nothing new with Alzolay’s performances this year.

Cubs: Adbert Alzolay ready to take the next step in becoming an elite pitcher

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Alzolay squared off against Brewers’ ace Freddy Peralta in his first three starts this season and got very little help from his offense or bullpen, as the offense managed just three hits against Peralta in the first two games (and still only five in the third game) and the bullpen allowed five inherited Alzolay runners to score in the second and third games. In fact, there were many who questioned Cubs’ skipper David Ross for taking Alzolay out and not allowing him to work out of what were his first big jams of either game.

Since his three straight starts against the Brewers, Alzolay has pitched at least five innings per start, all while giving up no more than five hits or three runs in any start. While that may not be ace material yet, Alzolay has proven early on in games that his slider is an almost unhittable pitch, while his-mid 90’s fastball can blow past even the best hitters when located or sequenced correctly.

As he showed in his start Saturday at Busch Stadium, his stamina and ability to pitch a third time through the order is the only minor blip that needs to be strengthened still. And that’s coming along just fine as evidenced by seven strong against the NL Central-leading Cardinals.

With his stuff, development and experience at the big league level, it’s clear that the cool and collected confidence and swagger are also burgeoning with Alzolay, no doubt thanks to discussions with Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta, two guys with totally different styles and repertoires who have both pitched at the highest and pressure-packed level in elite fashion.

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It seems their lessons and talks in the dugout are rubbing off on their teammate and he may well overtake both as the stud on this staff this year or next. Given what happens this year and who’s still around next season, Alzolay could be the man leading a much younger rotation of homegrown Cub arms in 2022.