Ranking 4 surprisingly valuable Cubs from the first half

Several unexpected players have had strong first halves for Chicago
Chicago Cubs v New York Yankees
Chicago Cubs v New York Yankees / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages
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4 surprisingly valuable Cubs at the All-Star Break: #2 - Adbert Alzolay

Michael Fulmer was supposed to be the closer for this Cubs team. No one ever came out and said it, but that was clearly the plan at the onset of the 2023 campaign. But that plan quickly went off the rails. Thankfully, as the season as progressed, Adbert Alzolay has not only stepped into the ninth-inning role, but he's thrived in it.

Alzolay has made 33 appearances, posting a 2.29 ERA and 2.37 FIP. He's slashed the walks, evidenced by a ridiculous 7.17 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season. Inject the energy and passion he has, especially when paired with Miguel Amaya behind the plate, directly into my veins. Just imagine that in October in front of a packed Wrigley Field.

Since making his Cubs debut back in 2019 as a 24-year-old, the right-hander has bounced around in various roles: as a starter, sometimes out of the pen and, finally, landing in the closer's role. He's got the stuff and seems to have his feet under him. Heading into the offseason without needing to find a ninth-inning solution would be a strong jumping off point, potentially allowing the front office to focus on the rotation and offense instead.