While Seiya Suzuki's error in the eighth inning of the Chicago Cubs' loss to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night is what has been driving the narrative for most of the day on Wednesday, it shouldn't be overlooked that veteran starting pitcher turned reliever Drew Smyly struggled in his role as the set-up man.
The Cubs' bullpen has been decimated with injuries over the course of the past month with closer Adbert Alzolay and late-inning relief pitcher Michael Fulmer each spending the bulk of the final month of the season on the IL.
Alzolay has been dealing with a right forearm strain and this has led to speculation that the injury may be a precursor to the Cubs' closer needing Tommy John surgery.
The concern over Alzolay's long-term diagnosis has subsided in recent days as he has been throwing long-toss but has ramped up his throwing program to include live bullpen sessions.
While Thursday will be an important day for Alzolay to ensure that there are no setbacks after his bullpen session today, the expectation is for the closer to return on Friday.
Alzolay has been the unsung hero in the Cubs' bullpen after the initial returns on Fulmer and reliever Brad Boxberger were not encouraging at the start of the season. Fulmer has been able to bounce back from his struggles at the start of the season while Broxberger has struggled when healthy.
Alzolay has converted 22 of 25 save opportunities this season while posting an ERA of 2.71. Alzolay was a crucial arm in the Cubs' bullpen during the second half of the season as he had a stretch of appearances where he converted 18 consecutive save opportunities.
Alzolay's return would be a much-needed boost for the Cubs' bullpen as the team will likely enter the series against the Milwaukee Brewers with the need of, at least, winning two of the three games.