Chicago Cubs: Adbert Alzolay to provide bullpen help?

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs prospect was really close to being called up last season prior to an injury that ended his season. Could he called up to help the bullpen?

When Yu Darvish was lost for the season in May of last season, the Chicago Cubs were considering calling up one of their top pitching prospects in Adbert Alzolay. Unfortunately, Alzolay suffered a season-ending injury of his own shortly after Darvish’s.

Alzolay returned from the lat injury and made his first start of the 2019 season with High-A Myrtle Beach. It did not go as planned as he was lit up for 6 runs (5 earned) on 7 hits in just 4.0 innings of work. However, the Cubs felt comfortable promoting him back to Triple-A where his season ended a year ago.

In his first start with the Iowa Cubs on May 17, he had similar results as his start in Myrtle Beach giving up 6 runs (5 earned) again on 4 hits in just 4.0 innings (again). After two bad starts, it was not exactly an encouraging sign for the former Cubs top pitching prospect.

However, his next three starts eased the mind’s of the Cubs scouting department as he has thrown 17.0 innings while allowing just 2 earned runs and striking out 23 batters to the tune of a 1.06 ERA. This all highlighted by his start on Saturday night tossing 6.0 innings allowing just 1 hit and striking out 8 batters.

"“He had a high percentage of strikes with the curve and a high percentage of swing and miss with the curve, which was encouraging,” Jason McLeod said. “Just to see him go out and compete with his mix of pitches that he has … was a real positive. So it was great to see.” – via Chicago Tribune"

As Alzolay continues to build up his innings, could he be a potential call-up to help the bullpen? It’s not uncommon for minor league pitchers to begin their careers in the bullpen. Look at Jeff Samardzija or Ryan Dempster as perfect examples. Samardzija was a key asset in 2008 out of the bullpen helping the team to a 97 win season in what was, coincidentally, Dempster’s first season as a starter with the Cubs.

Alzolay could serve a similar role while getting his feet wet with the Major Leagues. He projects to be a starting pitcher long-term but if the Cubs could get an arm to stabilize the middle of the bullpen while Alzolay gets used to facing major league hitting, it’s a win-win for everyone.

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Assuming all goes to plan, Alzolay would be stretched out as a starting pitcher in the offseason and into Spring Training with the goal of being the fifth starter for the Cubs rotation in 2019.