Chicago Cubs find themselves in a conundrum with a struggling Adbert Alzolay

There's no clear path forward when it comes to the recently displaced Cubs closer.
Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs
Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages

With the Chicago Cubs clinging to a narrow 1-0 lead over the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers on Friday afternoon at Wrigley, manager Craig Counsell turned to Adbert Alzolay with one away in the eighth and a pair of right-handers due up.

By the time Counsell returned to the mound to remove Alzolay, the Brew Crew had flipped the script, plating three runs and handing the ineffective reliever his fifth blown save of the young season and, eventually, the Cubs a 3-1 loss in the series opener.

“It feels awful,” manager Craig Counsell told Marquee Sports Network after the game. “It feels bad for sure and you feel for Adbert for sure. He’s struggling right now for sure. But we need Adbert. We need Adbert to be an effective member of the bullpen and we need to keep giving him opportunities to do that.”

Cubs, Adbert Alzolay will continue to search for answers

Given the lack of bullpen depth that partially stems from a diminished starting rotation that's currently missing Justin Steele, Jordan Wicks and Kyle Hendricks, Counsell was short-handed on Friday, which led to the decision to go to Alzolay in the eighth. With two righties due up, it was a favorable matchup for the 29-year-old reliever, but the results - again - were not there.

It wasn't the home run that got Alzolay on Friday - it was Brewers baserunners seemingly running at will against him. He allowed three stolen bases in the appearance, and all three came around to score, wasting a gem from Hayden Wesneski, who turned in 6 1/3 scoreless innings, setting a career-high with eight punchouts.

There's no clear answer here when it comes to what to do with Alzolay. He's a year removed from a breakout campaign as Chicago's closer and the Cubs aren't going to cut him loose after a bad month. He has no minor league options remaining, so the only option is finding ways to let him work it out at the big league level - which, at least to this point, has led to frustrating results for fans and Alzolay alike.

“This is a results-based game and I’m not getting results,” Alzolay said. “That’s the bottom line for me.”